Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Simulating Space to Test Europa Clipper Spacecraft Bound for Jupiter | NASA/JPL

Simulating Space to Test Europa Clipper Spacecraft Bound for Jupiter | NASA/JPL

How did the team working on NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft test whether the spacecraft will work properly in outer space? They put the spacecraft in a special chamber that mimics the kind of sunlight and airless environment the spacecraft will experience when it is in outer space. 

In this video, Tony Licari—a mechanical systems engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California—shows how the team moved the main body of the largest spacecraft NASA has ever built for a planetary mission into JPL's historic 85-foot-tall, 25-foot-wide (26-meter-by-8-meter) thermal vacuum chamber. Inside the chamber, the team simulated the kinds of conditions the spacecraft will experience while flying through space, and practiced deploying instruments. Europa Clipper successfully completed those tests in March 2024.

Europa Clipper will explore Jupiter’s icy moon Europa to see if there are conditions suitable for life. The spacecraft needs to be hardy enough to survive a 1.6 billion-mile, six-year journey to Jupiter, and sophisticated enough to perform a detailed science investigation of Europa once it arrives at the Jupiter system in 2030.

Europa Clipper is expected to launch in October 2024 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

Managed by Caltech in Pasadena, California, JPL leads the development of the Europa Clipper mission in partnership with APL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. APL designed the main spacecraft body in collaboration with JPL and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, executes program management of the Europa Clipper mission.

For more information on the mission go to: https://europa.nasa.gov/

Credit: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

Duration: 3 minutes, 39 seconds

Release Date: May 7, 2024

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