Europa Clipper: High-Gain Antenna Under Construction
The build of a high-gain antenna, a nearly 10-foot-wide (3-meter-wide) dish, is underway for NASA's Europa Clipper spacecraft. The dish antenna, seen here face down, is being fabricated at aerospace vendor Applied Aerospace Structures Corporation (AASC) in Stockton, California. The antenna was designed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, and AASC, where it will be integrated along with other telecommunications hardware, into the propulsion module. The antenna downloads science data and allows ground controllers to send and receive commands and data between Earth and the spacecraft in Jupiter orbit – more than a million times farther from Earth than the International Space Station orbits.
With an internal global ocean under a thick layer of ice, Jupiter's moon Europa may have the potential to harbor existing life. Europa Clipper will swoop around Jupiter on an elliptical path, dipping close to the moon on each flyby. Understanding Europa's habitability will help scientists better understand how life developed on Earth and the potential for finding life beyond our planet. Europa Clipper is set to launch in 2024.
More information about Europa and Europa Clipper can be found here: europa.nasa.gov