On March 9th, NASA announced that the future mission bound to study Jupiter’s moon Europa would be called the Europa Clipper. The name of this mission comes from the wooden clipper ships which sailed the oceans of this planet back in the 19th century. During the theoretical phase of the development of this mission, scientists have sometimes called it Europa Clipper. Now, NASA decided that the name should become official.
- NASA announced that the mission to Jupiter’s icy moon will be called Europa Clipper.
- The spaceship is bound to be launched in the 2020s.
- Astronomers want to use the spacecraft to search for signs of life on the surface and in the interior of Europa.
NASA explains that clipper ships were standardized three-masted sailing ships which were well-known for their swiftness and grace. These vessels were able to transport tea and other goods across the Atlantic Ocean and all over the world.
Once the spaceship Europa Clipper reaches the frozen moon of Jupiter, Europa, it will fly by this natural satellite once every two weeks, offering astronomers various close-up captures and collecting much information to be further delivered to Earth where it would be processed and analyzed. The spacecraft will have the chance to observe Europa close up.
The most significant stage of this mission will consist in approximately 40 or 45 flybys during which the spacecraft will capture images of the icy surface of Jupiter’s moon, and it will analyze the structure and composition of its frozen shell and its interior. Europa constitutes one of NASA’s interests for a long time due to the fact that it holds a salty ocean beneath its surface.
Another important purpose of the Europa Clipper mission is to establish if Jupiter’s moon has all three core elements necessary to sustain life, such as energy source, chemical ingredients, and liquid water. Robert Pappalardo, the project scientists of Europa Clipper mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena California, claimed that the spaceship would spend a limited period with the radiation area near Europa during each flyby.
The rover is meant to speed the past, collect the necessary scientific data and then continue its journey, racing out of that dangerous zone. Astronomers noted that last month, the Europa Clipper had accomplished its Key Decision Point-B review, commencing a new stage, namely the design phase. The mission is scheduled to start in the 2020s, when the spaceship will reach Jupiter after a few years.
Image courtesy of: wikipedia