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Europa Clipper’s Mission to Jupiter’s Icy Moon Confirmed

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
August 19, 2019
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Europa Clipper in orbit around Europa. (Credit; NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — An icy ocean world in our solar system that could tell us more about the potential for life on other worlds is coming into focus with confirmation of the EuropaClipper mission’s next phase. The decision allows the mission to progress to completion of final design, followed by the construction and testing of the entire spacecraft and science payload.  

“We are all excited about the decision that moves the Europa Clipper mission one key step closer to unlocking the mysteries of this ocean world,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We are building upon the scientific insights received from the flagship Galileo and Cassini spacecraft and working to advance our understanding of our cosmic origin, and even life elsewhere.”

The mission will conduct an in-depth exploration of Jupiter’s moon, Europa, and investigate whether the icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life, honing our insights into astrobiology.  To develop this mission in the most cost-effective fashion, NASA is targeting to have the Europa Clipper spacecraft complete and ready for launch as early as 2023. The agency baseline commitment, however, supports a launch readiness date by 2025. 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California leads the development of the Europa Clipper mission in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for the Science Mission Directorate. Europa Clipper is managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. 

4 responses to “Europa Clipper’s Mission to Jupiter’s Icy Moon Confirmed”

  1. Terry Stetler says:

    Not a word about what launcher, after years of SLS being baselined. With it now not flying Artemis 1 until at least 2021 perhaps they’re keeping their options opened. Also interesting in light of JPL saying a Falcon Heavy + Star 48 stack would work.

    • publiusr says:

      SLS could do a following lander.

    • Zed_WEASEL says:

      Well if you think a SLS launch slot is available in either 2023 or 2025 after the first 2 Artemis missions. Then it will be a SLS Block 1 as mandated by Congress. Otherwise the only current available options are the Falcon Heavy or the Falcon Heavy with a STAR-48 kick stage. Currently the Europa Clipper is launcher agnostic.

      The Delta IV Heavy is not an option unless you can ply one away from the spooks. The 3 production lines might have been closed. Since you need 3 different and unique core variants for each Delta IV Heavy.

      Possible future options are the New Glenn with a third stage, the Vulcan Centaur Heavy with STAR-48 kick stage and some variant of the Starship with orbital refueling.

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