NASA’s Europa Clipper mission to Icy Jupiter’s Moon

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is set to launch toward the Europa Clipper mission in October 2024. NASA’s most awaited mission to Jupiter’s ocean moon Europa now going to get started.

According to NASA, the Europa Clipper mission on Friday (July 23) was announced to launch atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. It is a $4.25 billion Clipper Spacecraft. The total value of the contract is about $178 million. The rocket will take off in October 2024 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. The rocket will then arrive in orbit around Jupiter in April 2030. The probe will continue Europa’s research in detail over the course of about 4 Earth years.

About Icy Jupiter’s Moon

There are about 79 moons in Jupiter’s skies. Europa is the smallest Galilean moon orbiting Jupiter. However, it is the Sixth largest moon in the Solar system. Galileo Galilee has discovered it in 1610. The Europa moon is composed of silicate rock, a water-ice crust, and an iron-nickel core. The atmosphere is primarily composed of oxygen. It is slightly smaller than Earth’s Moon. 

About Europa’s mission

Clippers aim to research Europa’s icy shell and ocean and, and the probability of life existing within it. This is primarily the mission of which congress has started and then forwarded to NASA for further development in research. 

Congress also instructed NASA to work on the Space Launch System (SLS). This is about the development of Space launching systems to take people to deep-space locations. The concept of Europa’s mission is based on the theory that there would be some sort of microbial organisms living inside the Jupiter moon’s icy ocean. 

Read more: NASA’s Curiosity rover may have detected ‘Alien Burp’

Critical Analysis of the Clipper’s Mission

According to the sources, Europa’s Clipper mission is based on the development of SLS.  On the other side, SLS research is already troubled because of constant delays and cost overruns for many years. It is unclear that the SLS would be available for the Clipper’s mission. 

The U.S government has announced the budget for both missions, this year in 2021. However, the team members stated that these missions will be a double task for them and would have a negative impact on the research process. 

The Clipper’s team has started working on both the contingencies. They planned to use a commercial alternative despite the SLS launch. NASA still hasn’t announced which launchers would be used for Clipper’s mission.

Views of Clipper’s Project Scientist

Bob Pappalardo is the Scientist of mission Clipper and formerly Cassini Project Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. He has researched the processes that have shaped the icy satellites of the outer solar system. Then he started work on Europa and in the research about its probable subsurface ocean. 

Bob has suggested that the commercial rocket would require an optimized speed limit. This has to cover up such a long-distance for the first time. 

About Falcon Heavy Rocket

Falcon Heavy is a large Cargo lifting rocket. Elon musk the South African-born American Entrepreneur has funded the making of this rocket. It has the highest payload capacity of any operational launch vehicle.

Its first flight occurred on Feb 6, 2018. The rocket carried a Tesla Roadster with a dummy- dubbed starman on the driving seat. Falcon Heavy is also certified for the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program.

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