NASA’s Europa Clipper mission is one step closer to the beginning of its journey to the icy moon of Jupiter. The hull, already equipped with built-in electronics, cables and propulsion, arrived at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California in early June. This is an aluminum cylinder 3 m high and 1.5 m wide.
Engineers and technicians will begin work on the Europa Clipper, including the integration of nine mission scientific tools to prepare the spacecraft for launch on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in October 2024.
The Europa Clipper, named after the 19th-century three-masted ocean-going merchant ships, plans to make about 50 flights over Europe, Jupiter’s icy moon, whose inner ocean is believed to contain twice as much water as Earth’s oceans.
The spacecraft will have to arrive in the Jupiter system in 2030, where it will use a set of tools to collect data on the atmosphere, surface and subsoil of Europe to answer questions about the viability of the satellite.
The Europa Clipper will also explore potential waterways that release samples of the theoretical underground ocean through cracks in Europe’s crust.