NASA has been working towards sending out a probe to Jupiter’s Europa in a bid to detect possible alien life with the space agency recently revealing that the mission has now entered into its next development phase.
The mission was advanced into the next phase after the space agency completed a major review of the mission to examine the habitability of Europa. According to NASA, it completed Key Decision Point-B review of Europa multiple-flyby mission. NASA says that the completion of the review permits the mission to move forward into its preliminary design phase, known as “Phase B” and it has already begun on February 27.
During Phase A, the designated team studied the selection and accommodation of 10 instruments being developed to study the scientific mysteries of Europa. The new Phase will continue for around nine months and with the completion of that phase, the preliminary design phase for the mission’s systems and subsystems will be complete as well. Testing of some spacecraft components began in the Phase A and that will continue through Phase B as well, NASA said.
In addition, during Phase B subsystem vendors will be selected, as well as prototype hardware elements for the science instruments. Spacecraft subassemblies will be built and tested as well.
NASA intends to launch its Europa mission in the 2020s, arriving in the Jupiter system after a journey of several years. The spacecraft would orbit Jupiter as frequently as every two weeks, providing many opportunities for close flybys of Europa. The mission plan includes 40 to 45 flybys in the prime mission, during which the spacecraft would image the moon’s icy surface at high resolution and investigate its composition and the structure of its interior and icy shell.
NASA explains life cycle of its of its mission comprises of several key phases with each step requiring demonstration that the phase meets with agency’s requirements in order to indicate readiness to move forward into the next phase. Phase B includes preliminary design work, while phases C and D include final design, spacecraft fabrication, assembly and testing, and launch.