Despite the potential cancellation of the Europa lander mission, a result of the Trump Administration’s suggested new NASA budget, another NASA mission to Europa, Jupiter’s icy moon, is still on track. In fact, it has officially acquired a name - the Europa Clipper.
The Europa Clipper is an orbiter that will use its instruments to probe for the possibility of life in Europa’s theorized ocean:
The design of the mission, where the spacecraft will orbit Jupiter (instead of the moon itself) and do repeated flybys of Europa, will allow for a more radiation-protected mission. The design could mean that Europa Clipper could last for “years and years,” doing as many as 45 flybys – a ton of science and imagery from a world that could very well hold life!
The mission is planned to launch in the 2020s, with a journey of several years to Jupiter. Once it arrives, it will be Europa party time, as images and news could come back to earth every few weeks or months for an extended period of time.
Fans of space exploration know that the wait will be worth it.
Author: Nick Azer; Editor: Susan Emmer