NewsWorldEuropa Clipper's high-gain antenna has been tested at NASA's...

Europa Clipper’s high-gain antenna has been tested at NASA’s Langley Research Center – Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex – Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex – NASA

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NASA’s Europa Clipper High Gain Antenna (HGA), which will make nearly 50 flybys of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, was at Langley’s Experimental Test Range (ETR) in March and April and then again in June and July. so that researchers could assess its ability to accurately transmit data from the spacecraft to Earth. In between those visits to Langley, the HGA went to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for vibration and thermal vacuum tests to verify its ability to withstand both launch shake and the extreme temperatures of space. The approximately 3-meter-diameter HGA will transmit information from Europa Clipper’s nine instruments, which will collect data on Europa’s atmosphere, surface and interior. Scientists have strong evidence that Europa is home to a vast, deep underground ocean of water that could support life. In fact, there could be more liquid water on Europa than on Earth, even though it is smaller than our Moon. “We are at the NASA Langley ETR to measure the performance of the HGA, determining the power and shape of the transmit beam, as well as its precise orientation to help know how to point the antenna toward Earth,” said Matt Bray. , designer and principal engineer of the HGA at the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) at Johns Hopkins University in Laurel, Maryland. Langley researchers prepare to move the high-gain antenna (HGA) for Europa Clipper to the Experimental Test Range (ETR).
Credit: NASA/David C. Bowman. The HGA operates on NASA’s deep space X-band radio frequencies of 7.2 and 8.4 (GHz) and on the Ka-band of 32 (GHz). Thirty-two GHz is many times higher than the frequency of most mobile phones. That higher frequency will give the Europa Clipper plenty of bandwidth to send data at high speeds. That data will take about 45 minutes to reach Earth from orbit around Jupiter. The ETR is an electromagnetic test facility that allows researchers to characterize transmitters, receivers, antennas, and other electromagnetic components and subsystems in a controlled environment. Although there are other facilities across the US that can host similar tests, the size, accessibility and availability of the ETR made it a perfect location for the HGA. An HGA prototype underwent testing at the ETR in 2019. Managed by Caltech in Pasadena, California, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory leads development of the Europa Clipper mission in partnership with APL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. The Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama performs program management for the Europa Clipper mission. The Europa Clipper is scheduled to launch in October 2024. In this video, the Europa Clipper High Gain Antenna (HGA) is seen moving toward the Experimental Test Range (ETR) test area at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
Credit: NASA/Gary Banziger. Original news (in English) Edition: R. Castro.

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