NASA's Europa Clipper's Ultraviolet Spectrograph Is Delivered
Engineers and technicians examine and test the first of NASA's Europa Clipper's science instruments to be delivered to the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. The ultraviolet spectrograph, called Europa-UVS and led by the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, will be integrated into the spacecraft during the phase of the mission called assembly, test, and launch operations. Europa-UVS is part of a payload of nine science instruments aboard Europa Clipper.
In this photo, captured in February 2022, the instrument's custom testing equipment is seen at left, with a boxy, red frame. The instrument itself is seen at right. During testing, technicians shined ultraviolet light into the instrument's front aperture.
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 in an elliptical orbit, dipping close to the moon on each flyby to collect data. 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.
Europa-UVS will search above the surface of Europa for signs of potential plumes that may be venting subsurface water into space. The instrument collects ultraviolet light, then separates the wavelengths of that light to help determine the composition of the moon's surface and gases in the atmosphere.
More information about Europa and Europa Clipper can be found here: europa.nasa.gov