NASA scientists are seeking to explore the mysterious ice moon of Jupiter, Europe, with the Europa Clipper spacecraft, expected to launch in about 2023.
Space.com reports that the mission, which will send the Europa Clipper into space in about four years, will try to learn more about the appearance and surface of Europa. The Europa Clipper, which makes about 40 close passes over Europe, will collect important information about the composition of the moon, geology and the hidden inner ocean.
Despite the fact that now it is only the year 2019, NASA scientists still have to conduct additional research on the icy moon before they start creating 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 organisms live in its icy inland ocean.
“Europe, which we do not really understand, is really the key riddles that we are trying to understand,” said Space.com Robert Pappalardo, planet scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "[Europa Clipper] going to tell us so much about how ice moons work, and ice moons are probably the most common habitat in the universe, so it's great. "
As part of the Europa mission, Clipper will have nine tools that will help assess whether Europe is suitable for living or not. When the Europa Clipper comes into contact with Europe, it travels a distance of 15.5 miles from the surface of Europe to collect several images.
However, it will not be easy to send the Europa Clipper to the icy moon: NASA scientists will have to plan the trajectory, which means that they will have to choose the path that the spacecraft will follow when it meets Europe. To make this task more convenient, NASA scientists leave their options open for each tool, so they can use the one that will provide the best data.
While NASA scientists are waiting to learn about the Europa Clipper launch vehicle, they turn to the individual components of the mission before moving on to phase C, where they determine the final budget and begin developing the Europa Clipper spacecraft.
“It's amazing, we have to move so fast to get to the launch, which is not earlier than by 2023,” said Pappalardo of Space.com. “Sometimes you stop and realize that you are in this river that flows forward, and it just fascinates you because there is so much to do.”
Visit the NASA Europa Clipper Labs page to learn more about the NASA mission on the icy moon.
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