Jupiter’s unusual icy moon, Europa, may be one of the best places in the solar system to study signs of extraterrestrial life. But first we have to get there. NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft will be launched towards Jupiter by SpaceX Falcon Heavy, one of the most powerful rockets ever built.
On Friday last week, NASA officials announced they had selected SpaceX to launch a mission to Jupiter’s moon. The launch is scheduled for October 2024 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The contract is worth about $ 178 million.
Europa Clipper will try to determine if Jupiter’s moon can be a living medium.
“The main objectives of the mission are to create high-resolution images of the surface of Europe, determine its composition, look for signs of recent or ongoing geological activity, measure the thickness of the ice shell to find underground lakes, and determine the depth and salinity of Europe’s waters,” NASA said.
SpaceX is working with NASA on many fronts, including transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station, delivering cargo to the ISS, and developing a landing system for returning astronauts to the moon as part of the Artemis program.
NASA’s space launch system, Artemis, designed for lunar missions, was linked to the launch of the Europa Clipper, but the space agency opened up the possibility of using a commercial supplier last year. Well, congratulations to Elon Musk, as Falcon Heavy will be honored to launch an exciting mission.