Europa Clipper delivered to Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The Europa Clipper spacecraft platform has been successfully delivered to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Over the next two years, engineers will complete the assembly of the probe, after which they will conduct a series of tests designed to certify its ability to withstand a trip to Jupiter.

Europa Clipper Platform Design

The Europa Clipper platform was built by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. In fact, it is a pair of aluminum cylinders nested inside each other with threaded holes for mounting payloads — scientific instruments, sensors, electronic components, wiring, antennas and solar panels.

The height of the platform is 3 meters, the diameter is 1.5 meters. Inside it there are two tanks — one with fuel, the other with an oxidizer. Their contents will be delivered to a group of 24 engines, where they will be mixed to create a controlled chemical reaction that forms thrust. The engines will be used both for large maneuvers (for example, entering the orbit of Jupiter) and small corrections of the course and orientation of the spacecraft.

Inside the platform there is also a storage for the Europa Clipper control electronics. It is designed in such a way as to withstand the effects of the very powerful radiation belts of Jupiter.

Europa Clipper Assembly and Mission Objectives

In the near future, engineers will start equipping the platform — scientific instruments will be installed on it (some of them have already arrived at JPL), a three-meter antenna with high gain and solar panels. 68 kg of wiring and connectors will be used to bundle all these components. Their length in the unfolded state will be 640 meters.

The platform of the Europa Clipper spacecraft. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

It is worth noting that Europa Clipper will be the largest spacecraft launched by NASA to another planet. When folded, it will be comparable in size to an off-road vehicle. After going into space and deploying solar panels, the diameter of the device will already be comparable to a basketball court. 

Europa Clipper will be launched in October 2024 by a Falcon Heavy rocket. The spacecraft will enter a permanent orbit around Jupiter in 2030. The main task of Europa Clipper is to study Europa, an icy moon with a giant ocean hiding under its surface. During its mission, the probe will have to perform about 50 flights of this body, determine the characteristics of this ocean and the degree of its potential viability.

Recall that the ESA recently completed the assembly of the JUICE probe. It will be launched to Jupiter next year.

According to

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