Europa Clipper gets a means of communication with the Earth

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) specialists installed a high-gain antenna on the Europa Clipper. This will provide it with a connection to the Earth.

Installing the antenna on the Europa Clipper probe. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Europa Clipper is NASA’s most complex and expensive interplanetary mission in recent years. Its main goal will be Europa, a moon of Jupiter, under the icy surface of which a huge ocean hides Europa Clipper is to determine its main characteristics, which will allow scientists to assess the viability of this reservoir.

Flying to Jupiter will not be an easy walk. The planet’s orbit passes at a distance of 780 million km from the Sun, so the issues of energy supply and ensuring stable communication with the spacecraft come first.

To generate energy, Europa Clipper will use a pair of solar panels, each of which is 14.2 meters long and 4.1 meters wide. As for communication, it will be provided by a high-gain antenna. Recently, JPL engineers installed it on the spacecraft.

The antenna is one of the largest elements of the Europa Clipper. Its diameter is 3 meters. According to experts, the antenna power will be enough to ensure the transmission of a large amount of data to Earth.

In the near future, JPL engineers will conduct tests of the antenna to make sure that its technical characteristics meet the expected ones. After that, a new series of tests will follow. Their goal will be to check the readiness of the spacecraft to withstand being in outer space. Then Europa Clipper will be prepared for launch. It is scheduled for October 2024. The spacecraft will be launched into space using a Falcon Heavy rocket, its arrival to Jupiter will take place in 2030.

Earlier we talked about how a poem by American poet Ada Limon was engraved on Europa Clipper.

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