NASA released some interesting news this week. And one of them targeted the Europa Clipper. This multiple fly-by mission to Jupiter is ready to enter its next development stage.
The Europa Multiple Fly-By Mission is more commonly known as the Europa Clipper. It is an interplanetary mission currently being developed by NASA. Europa’s Clipper will comprise of a lander and an orbiter. And these will target Europa, Jupiter’s moon.
The Europa Clipper is set to launch sometimes in the 2020s. An initial approximate date has been set for 2022. And according to NASA, the mission will work as follows.
A spacecraft will be deployed and orbit around Jupiter. And whilst doing so, it will study the Galilean moon, Europa. This will be a follow-up mission to the Galileo program.
During its studies, the Galileo spacecraft potentially detected an important element. It led scientists to believe that Europa may be holding a subsurface ocean. Which led to the need for more studies.
These will be moved along with help from the Europa Clipper. And on February 21st, NASA released news about the mission. According to the agency’s statement, the clipper passed a key review.
And as such, the mission to enter its next important development stage. Or more exactly, it will be entering a design phase. The Europa Clipper recently passed the Key Decision Point B review. This is also called the KDP-B. By phasing this review, the mission will accede to Phase B.
This will target the development of a preliminary design for the spacecraft. And it will formally begin later this month. It will be initiated on February 28. And will be carried out until sometime in September 2018.
Curt Niebur offered some additional details. He is the mission’s program scientist at the NASA Headquarters. Niebur released a statement on the matter on February 22nd, during the OPAG. This is the Outer Planets Assessment Group meeting, taking place in Atlanta.
And according to Niebur, these are “supremely great news” for the Europa Clipper. And the KDP-B was reported as being “extremely successful”.
Still, Niebur stated that the review also highlighted some points that still require work. More exactly, it pointed out the mission’s need to be careful about the power and mass levels. These will have to be more closely monitored. Especially now that the Europa Clipper will be going into a more detailed design level.
Presently, NASA has yet to specify the mission’s exact schedule. Or its total cost. But some place quite some hopes on it. Reportedly, they are hoping that the Europa lander will reveal traces of life on the moon. And if not the Europa Clipper, at least a later mission.
But for the moment, the Multiple Fly-Bys mission is still getting ready to access its next stage. NASA issued a press release following the KDP-B review.
The next major review will be released later on. It will come following the Key Decision Point C results. This will most likely come with details about the mission schedule and costs.
More information will have to be released about the spacecraft in themselves. The lander will most likely depart after the Europa Clipper. But not many details have been released as the mission team still has to decide on what to use. And because the Europa Clipper is still in its early development stages. Nonetheless, many already have quite high hopes for this mission.
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