NASA’s mission to explore the Jupiter glacier is taking a big step forward as engineers launch a large part of the spacecraft.
Europe, the crescent moon of Jupiter, is probably home to a vast ocean floor under its icy shell. Scientists believe that this ocean is the largest freshwater lake in the world. The complex chemical process needed for life as we know it exists in liquid water, making this ocean one of the fundamental reasons astronomers want to study Europe.
NASA’s Europa Clipper will be equipped with the scientific tools needed to study Europa to see if it has the right conditions to support life. It is expected to be launched in 2024 and will take several years to reach Jupiter. Once there, it will orbit a plane, which will fly through Europe about 45 times or more. It will scan the moon and report the data to Earth during each flight.
The main body of NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft has just been delivered to the organization’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California. Over the next two years, engineers and technicians will complete the manual assembly before testing it to ensure it can withstand the voyage to Jupiter’s Moon Europa.