NASA’s Southern California Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) took over much of the Europa Clipper spacecraft ahead of its long-awaited mission to Jupiter’s Ice Moon Europe in 2024.
This week, JPL shared an acceleration video (below) showing the main body of the Europa Clipper arriving at its facility from Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, which designed the body of the spacecraft in collaboration with JPL and the Space Flight Center. NASA.
One step closer to exploring the ice world of Europe. ❄️
The main body of @ NASA‘s @EuropaClipper the spacecraft was delivered to JPL by @JHUAPL. It is in the process of final assembly and testing before its planned launch in 2024 to the icy moon of Jupiter. pic.twitter.com/LYpgJ6BUSm
– NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) June 7, 2022
Commenting on the arrival of the component, Jordan Evans, Head of Mission Project at JPL, said: “This is an exciting time for the whole project team and a huge stage. This delivery brings us one step closer to launching and researching the Europa Clipper.
The spacecraft is now undergoing final assembly and testing ahead of a space mission that will seek to learn more about Europe and find out if the liquid water believed to exist beneath its ice sheet has the potential to shelter life.
The body of the Europa Clipper – including an aluminum cylinder containing electronics, radios, thermal loop tubes, cables and the drive system – stands 10 feet (3 meters) high and 5 feet (1.5 meters) wide.
JPL says that with its solar grilles and other expandable equipment packed for launch, the spacecraft will be “as big as an SUV.” However, once fully deployed, the spacecraft’s solar massifs will expand to the size of a basketball court, making it the largest NASA spacecraft ever built for a planetary mission.
Once it reaches its destination, Europa Clipper will make nearly 50 orbits of Jupiter’s Europe satellite, which scientists believe contains an inner ocean containing twice as much water as all the oceans on Earth.
Nine scientific instruments aboard the spacecraft will work to collect data on Europe’s atmosphere, surface and interior, hoping to provide scientists with enough information to determine if any form of life could exist in the water under the ice.
NASA plans to launch the Europa Clipper on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket with a triple accelerator, which has been used only three times so far. The spacecraft will begin its research when it reaches a distant place in 2030.
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