NewsWorldAssembly of NASA's Europa Clipper spacecraft progresses rapidly –...

Assembly of NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft progresses rapidly – ​​Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex – Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex – NASA

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The spacecraft will occupy the main facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to prepare it for launch in 2024 to Jupiter’s moon Europa. The core of NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft has taken center stage at the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Standing 3 meters tall and 1.5 meters wide, the main body of the spacecraft will be the focus of attention in the facility’s ultra-hygienic High Bay 1 for the next two years, as engineers and technicians assemble the spacecraft for its launch to Jupiter’s moon Europa in October 2024. Scientists believe that the ice-covered moon harbors a vast internal ocean that may have the right conditions to support life. During nearly 50 flybys of Europa, the spacecraft’s suite of science instruments will collect data about the moon’s atmosphere, surface and interior, information that scientists will use to measure the depth and salinity of the ocean, the thickness of the ice crust and potential plumes that may be expelling subsurface water into space. This timelapse shows NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft during its carefully choreographed movement toward High Bay 1 Clean Room, JPL’s spacecraft assembly facility.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Several of Europa Clipper’s science instruments have already been completed and will be installed on the spacecraft at JPL. More recently, the plasma detection instrument, called the Plasma Instrument for Magnetic Sounding, and the wide-angle camera of the Europa Imaging System arrived from Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. The thermal emission imaging instrument, called E-THEMIS, and the ultraviolet spectrograph, Europa-UVS, have already been installed on the spacecraft platform, which will house many of the instrument’s sensors while stabilizing them to ensure they are oriented correctly. Engineers and technicians use a crane to lift the core of NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft in the High Bay 1 clean room at JPL’s Spacecraft Assembly Facility.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Manufactured at JPL, this key piece of hardware will soon move to High Bay 1 of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, the same clean room where historic missions like Galileo, Cassini and all of NASA’s Mars rovers were built. Also moving to High Bay 1 soon is the aluminum electronics dome, which will be bolted to the main body of the spacecraft, shielding interior electronics from Jupiter’s intense radiation. The electronics allow Europa Clipper’s computer to communicate with the spacecraft’s antennas, science instruments, and the subsystems that will keep them active. The shiny copper wiring that winds around the orbiter’s aluminum core contains thousands of wires and connectors crafted into the APL. If laid end-to-end, the wiring would stretch nearly 2,100 feet. Inside the core are Europa Clipper’s two propellant tanks. The fuel and oxidizer they will contain will flow to a series of 24 engines, where they will create a controlled chemical reaction to produce thrust in deep space. Engineers and technicians use a crane to position the core of NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft during a maneuver to position it in the High Bay 1 clean room at JPL’s Spacecraft Assembly Facility.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. By the end of 2022, most of the flight hardware and the rest of the science instruments are expected to be complete. Then the next steps will be a wide variety of tests as the spacecraft moves toward its 2024 launch period. After traveling for nearly six years and more than 2.9 billion km, it will reach orbit around Jupiter in 2030. Europa Clipper’s vault, with attached cover, is ready to move to the High Bay 1 clean room of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at JPL. The dome will protect the spacecraft’s electronics, while the platform will provide a stable location for science instruments.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. More about Europa Clipper Missions like Europa Clipper contribute to the field of astrobiology, the interdisciplinary field of research that studies the conditions of distant bodies that could support life as we know it. While Europa Clipper is not a life detection mission, it will carry out a detailed exploration of Europa and investigate whether the icy moon, with its underground ocean, has the potential to support life. Understanding Europa’s habitability will help scientists better understand how life developed on Earth and the potential to find life beyond our planet. Managed by Caltech in Pasadena, California, JPL is leading development of the Europa Clipper mission in partnership with APL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. APL designed the main body of the spacecraft in collaboration with JPL and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Program management for the Europa Clipper mission is managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Original news (in English) Edition: R. Castro.

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