NASA scientists intend to explore the mysterious icy moon of Jupiter, Europe, with a Europa Clipper spacecraft due to be launched around 2023.
The mission, which will send Europa Clipper to space in about four years, will try to learn more about the appearance and surface of Europe, Space.com reported. The Europa Clipper, which will make about 40 tight passes over Europe, will collect important information on the composition of the Moon, geology and occult ocean.
Even if it's only 2019, NASA scientists still need to conduct additional research on the icy moon before they start building the Europa Clipper. A key part of the mission will be to understand whether Europe is habitable or habitable because it is not known whether any organism lives in its chilling inner ocean.
"Europe, we really do not go in – there are these really important mysteries we're trying to understand," said Robert Spacepalardo, a planetary scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Space.com. "[Europa Clipper] will tell us a lot about how icy moons work, and icy moons are probably the most common habitable environments in the universe, so that's exciting. "
In the mission, Europa Clipper will have nine instruments that will help assess whether Europe is livable or not. When you get in touch with Europe, Europa Clipper will travel within 15.5 miles of Europe's surface to collect some images.
However, sending Europa Clipper to the icy moon will not be easy: NASA scientists will have to engage in planning the trajectory, which means they will have to choose a path for the spacecraft to follow when it finds Europe. To make this task easier, NASA scientists are keeping their options open with each instrument so they can use what will provide the best data.
While NASA scientists are waiting to hear about the Europa Clipper launch vehicle, they are addressing individual components of the mission before entering phase C, where they will set a final budget and begin to develop the Europa Clipper spacecraft.
"It's incredible, we have to move so fast to get to a launch that will at least be 2023," Pappalardo told Space.com. "Sometimes you stop and realize you are in this river that is running, and that only leads to it because there are many things to do."
Visit the Europa Clipper page of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory to learn more about NASA's mission to the icy moon.
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