NASA signs contract with SpaceX for its first mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa – .

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NASA signs contract with SpaceX for its first mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa – .


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), based in Southern California, awarded SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corp.) the launch services contract for the first terrestrial mission to conduct detailed surveys on Europa.

The “Europa Clipper” mission is scheduled for October 2024 and NASA said in a statement Friday that the spacecraft will be launched on a Falcon Heavy rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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The contract award is approximately $ 178 million.

Scientists at the agency will explore whether Jupiter’s icy moon, which is about 90% the size of Earth’s moon, could harbor conditions for life.

The world – first discovered by famous astronomer Galileo Galilei – shows strong evidence of a saltwater ocean beneath the planet’s crust, believed to contain twice as much water as Earth’s oceans combined.

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NASA estimates that the moon’s ice shell is around 10 to 15 miles thick, and its internal ocean is estimated to be around 40 to 100 miles deep.

The mission will send Europa Clipper into orbit around Jupiter to perform close overflights of Europe on an elliptical path. The orbiter’s scientific instrument suite will help measure the depth and salinity of the ocean and the thickness of its icy shell, map the geology and composition of the surface, search for steam plumes of water that could be emitted from the crust and underground lakes of Europe and produce an image of its surface.

This color view of Jupiter’s moon Europa was captured by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s. Scientists are studying the processes that affect the surface as they prepare to explore the frozen body. (Credits: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SETI Institute)

JPL notes that understanding Europe’s habitability will help astrobiologists better understand how life developed on Earth about 382 million kilometers away, in addition to efforts to find life beyond marble. blue.

While JPL leads the development of the Europa Clipper mission in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, for the NASA Science Mission Directorate in Washington, the Kennedy-based NASA Launch Services Program will manage the Europa Clipper launch service.

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In addition, the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, will lead the program management of the Europa Clipper mission.

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