NASA is getting serious about its intentions of sending a mission to Jupiter’s Europa to probe the moon for possibly habitability with the latest step from the space agency being announcement being the formal naming of the mission – ‘Europa Clipper’.
NASA has taken the inspiration for naming the the mission from the clipper ships that sailed across the oceans of Earth in the 19th century. These ships were streamlined, three-masted sailing vessels known for their speed and were used to shuttle tea and other goods across the Atlantic Ocean.
In keeping with the tradition of the clipper ships, the Europa Clipper spacecraft will be flying to Jupiter’s Europa and will fly past the icy moon once every two weeks providing NASA the opportunity to study and investigate the moon for habitability.
As the plan goes, NASA intends to perform anywhere between 40 to 45 flybys and during these flybys the spacecraft will capture detailed images of Europa’s icy surface while also studying its composition, structure of its interior and icy shell.
The primary mission objective of Europa Clipper will be to investigate and determine the habitability of Europa by checking out whether it has all the necessary ingredients for life including liquid water, chemical ingredients, and energy sources.
NASA has been working on its Europa mission for quite sometime now with it being in the conceptual phase until now. With the formal adoption of the mission name, it is most likely that the spacecraft will eventually launch sometime in the 2020s.
Back in March NASA advances its Europa mission into next development phase after completing a major review of the mission to examine the habitability of Europa. At the time NASA said that 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.