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Daily News Analysis


13th April, 2024 Science and Technology


Source: Wikipedia

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  • NASA's ambitious Europa Clipper mission is poised to explore Jupiter's moon Europa, aiming to unravel the mysteries of its icy surface and potentially discover signs of extraterrestrial life.


  • The Europa Clipper mission, previously known as Europa Multiple Flyby Mission, is a significant endeavor by NASA aimed at exploring Jupiter's moon Europa.

Mission Overview

  • Objective: Uncover evidence of life on Jupiter's moon Europa by studying its surface and subsurface environments.
  • Launch Date: Scheduled for October 2024, the spacecraft will be launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
  • Duration: The mission is expected to span over five years, with a targeted arrival at Europa by 2031.
  • Mission Type: Large Strategic Science Mission within NASA's Planetary Science Division.


The Europa Clipper mission aims to:

  • Study Europa through a series of flybys while in orbit around Jupiter.
  • Explore Europa and investigate its habitability.
  • Characterize the ice shell and subsurface ocean of Europa.
  • Study the distribution and chemistry of key compounds.
  • Investigate the geology and surface features, including potential sites of activity.


  • Flyby Approach: Instead of orbiting Europa due to intense radiation, the spacecraft will orbit Jupiter and conduct 44 close flybys of Europa.
  • Minimized Radiation Exposure: Wide orbit around Jupiter and several flybys of Europa minimize radiation exposure to the spacecraft.
  • Data Transmission: Short duration of close-up observations during flybys balanced with ample time for data transmission to Earth.
  • Trajectory Maneuvers: Gravity assists from Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto used to alter the spacecraft's trajectory for multiple close approaches to Europa.

Significance of Europa

  • Europa is a prime target for exploration due to its potential to harbor liquid water beneath its icy crust, making it a promising candidate for extraterrestrial life.
  • Discovering life on Europa would have profound implications for understanding the prevalence of life in the universe.

Mission Components

  • Probe Equipment: Equipped with advanced instruments including cameras, spectrometers, magnetometers, and radar to analyze Europa's surface and subsurface features.
  • Clean Room Preparation: The spacecraft is currently housed in a specialized clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, ensuring it remains uncontaminated by Earthly microbes.
  • Launch Vehicle: The Clipper spacecraft will be launched aboard a Space X Falcon Heavy rocket, utilizing gravitational assists from Mars to reach its destination.


  • Europa Thermal Emission Imaging System (E-THEMIS): Provides high-resolution multi-spectral imaging of Europa's surface in the mid to far infrared bands to detect geologically active sites and potential vents erupting plumes of water into space.
  • Mapping Imaging Spectrometer for Europa (MISE): Probes the surface composition of Europa using imaging near-infrared spectroscopy to identify and map distributions of organics, salts, water ice phases, and other materials.
  • Europa Imaging System (EIS): Maps most of Europa at 50-meter resolution and provides high-resolution images of selected surface areas to study surface features and geological characteristics.
  • Europa Ultraviolet Spectrograph (Europa-UVS): Detects small plumes and analyzes the composition and dynamics of Europa's exosphere using ultraviolet spectroscopy.
  • Radar for Europa Assessment and Sounding: Ocean to Near-surface (REASON): Characterizes and sounds Europa's ice crust from the near-surface to the ocean, revealing the hidden structure of Europa's ice shell and potential water pockets within.
  • Europa Clipper Magnetometer (ECM): Characterizes Europa's magnetic fields to confirm the existence of its subsurface ocean, measure the thickness of its icy crust, and assess water depth and salinity.
  • Plasma Instrument for Magnetic Sounding (PIMS): Measures the plasma surrounding Europa to characterize magnetic fields generated by plasma currents and understand Europa's ice shell thickness, ocean depth, and salinity.
  • Mass Spectrometer for Planetary Exploration (MASPEX): Determines the composition of Europa's atmosphere and surface materials by measuring its extremely tenuous atmosphere and analyzing surface materials ejected into space.
  • Surface Dust Analyzer (SUDA): Measures the composition of small solid particles ejected from Europa's surface, providing insights into potential plumes and surface materials.

Scientific Exploration

  • Scientists anticipate conducting extensive examinations of Europa's surface and subsurface layers to assess the presence of liquid water and other potential indicators of habitability.
  • Instruments onboard the spacecraft will provide valuable insights into the thickness of Europa's ice crust and the distribution of liquid water beneath the surface.
  • Additionally, the spacecraft will use its radio antenna to perform experiments to learn about Europa's gravitational field by characterizing its motion during flybys.


The Europa Clipper mission represents a pioneering effort to explore one of the moons in the solar system. By utilizing a flyby approach and innovative strategies to minimize radiation exposure, the mission aims to unravel the mysteries of Europa's subsurface ocean and assess its potential habitability.





Q.  With its advanced scientific payload and trajectory maneuvers, Europa Clipper promises to provide insights into the Jupiter’s moon. Discuss. (150 Words)