|Europa Clipper mission
Artist's concept of the Europa Clipper mission investigating Jupiter's icy moon Europa. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The Europa Clipper is a concept under study by NASA that would conduct detailed reconnaissance of Jupiter's moon Europa and would investigate whether the icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life.
The Europa Clipper mission would place a spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter in order to perform a detailed investigation of the giant planet's moon Europa -- a world that shows strong evidence for an ocean of liquid water beneath its icy crust and which could host conditions favorable for life. The Europa Clipper mission would send a highly capable, radiation-tolerant spacecraft into a long, looping orbit around Jupiter to perform repeated close flybys of Europa.
The possible payload of science instruments under consideration includes radar to penetrate the frozen crust and determine the thickness of the ice shell, an infrared spectrometer to investigate the composition of Europa's surface materials, a topographic camera for high-resolution imaging of surface features, and an ion and neutral mass spectrometer to analyze the moon's trace atmosphere during flybys.
The nominal Europa Clipper mission would perform 45 flybys of Europa at altitudes varying from 2700 km to 25 km.