NASA officially awarded Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) a $178-million contract for Earth’s first mission to conduct detailed investigations of Jupiter’s moon Europa. Called the Europa Clipper mission, it’s set to launch in October 2024 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Once Europa Clipper reaches the moon, it will conduct a detailed survey and use a suite of science instruments to investigate whether the icy moon has conditions suitable for life. Read more for two videos and additional information.
Some important mission objectives include capturing high-resolution images of Europa’s surface, determining its composition, searching for signs of recent or ongoing geological activity, measuring the thickness of the moon’s icy shell, look for subsurface lakes, and finding the depth as well as salinity of Europa’s ocean.
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NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy will manage the Europa Clipper launch service. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California leads the development of the Europa Clipper mission in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, executes program management of the Europa Clipper mission,” said the agency.