SpaceX’s powerful Falcon Heavy rocket will launch the NASA Europa Clipper spacecraft towards Jupiter’s icy Europa moon, scientists believe it may have water plumes. The mission is scheduled to lift off until late-2024. Clipper will launch atop Falcon Heavy from historic Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA is paying $178 million to launch Clipper towards the Jovian system.
Falcon Heavy rocket. / Source: SpaceX
Falcon Heavy is currently the world's most powerful rocket in operation. The vehicle consists of three Falcon 9 booster cores capable of generating over 5 million pounds of thrust with all 27 Merlin engines. Europa Clipper will be launched on a voyage towards Jupiter approximately 383.33 million miles away from Earth. If it launches in 2024, the spacecraft could arrive to orbit around Jupiter by April 2030. Clipper will be tasked with performing 44 flybys of the Europa moon over the course of 4 years. “Europa Clipper will conduct a detailed survey of Europa and use a sophisticated suite of science instruments to investigate whether the icy moon has conditions suitable for life,” the agency stated. “Key mission objectives are to produce high-resolution images of Europa's surface, determine its composition, look for signs of recent or ongoing geological activity, measure the thickness of the moon’s icy shell, search for subsurface lakes, and determine the depth and salinity of Europa's ocean.”
As we continue building our spacecraft and its science instruments, take an interactive tour of the craft that will reveal the secrets of Europa like never before: https://t.co/lF8BPpsXWe pic.twitter.com/axs6GgWzLz— NASA Europa Clipper (@EuropaClipper) November 19, 2021
Europa is believed to have the ingredients necessary to be potentially habitable. The mysterious icy moon will be explored by the spacecraft to search for signs of alien life. Scientists believe the liquid water under the ice could host aquatic organisms. “NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft will study the moon from its deep interior to its surface to determine whether it has ingredients that make it a viable home for life,” NASA representatives said in an intresting blog that poses the question -’Are water plumes spraying from Europa?’ In the informative article published this week, NASA shares that researchers believe Jupiter’s Europa moon might have flowing water plumes like Saturn’s Enceladus moon. You can read more details in the NASA blog, linked below.
Are plumes of water erupting from the surface of Jupiter's icy moon Europa—and if so, what else do these jets hold?— NASA (@NASA) November 30, 2021
Our @EuropaClipper mission, scheduled to launch in 2024, will scout for answers: https://t.co/lRyGY7HF9G pic.twitter.com/UltLPzPMG0
Learn more in the video linked below, courtesy of NASA.
VIDEO: Ocean Worlds - The Search for Life
Featured Images Source: NASA