NASA is testing the Jupiter lunar probe's data transmission antenna


Clipper's team is evaluating its performance in the controlled environment of electromagnetic testing facilities, just as Mars's helicopter team used JPL's Space Simulator to prove that its unmanned vehicles work. In particular, they are making sure that they are highly accurate when it comes to pointing to their targets, as this is the key to sending high resolution images and large volumes of scientific data.

"The measurements that will be carried out in the ETR will demonstrate that the Europa Clipper mission can get a large amount of scientific data back to Earth and ultimately determine the habitability of Europe," said Thomas Magner, assistant project manager for Europa Clipper.

Scientists believe the thick, icy crust of the moon is hiding a salty, global ocean. A NASA official once said that it is one of the "most promising places that could potentially harbor life in the solar system" outside our own planet and is definitely worth a visit.

While Clipper's team is almost ready with its current round of testing, they plan to drive more in the same facility before the spacecraft takes off. The Europa Clipper is expected to be launched in 2020 and will take three to seven years to reach the gas giant, depending on its launch vehicle and other factors.


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