NASA is working on a spacecraft that will spot large solar arrays spanning to the size equal to a basketball court. “The Europa Clipper,” the name of the “SUV-sized” spacecraft, will be a huge success to NASA in exploring space.
The huge size of the spacecraft will help power it through to Europa, “Jupiter’s icy moon.” According to the scientists behind the project, it will be fully hand-crafted.
The spacecraft assembly is ongoing in southern California’s “Jet Propulsion Laboratory.” The group is bringing in components from Europe, and they hope to complete a bigger percentage of the flight hardware before the year ends.
The scientists target to complete the project before 2024 when they launch the spacecraft to Europa.
“We’re moving into the phase where we see the pieces all come together as a flight system,” a statement by Jan Chodas, Europa’s Clipper lead Manager.
“It will be very exciting to see the hardware, the flight software, and the instruments get integrated and tested. To me, it’s the next level of discovery. We’ll learn how the system we designed will actually perform.” He added.
NASA scientists are confident that the conditions in Europa are suitable for aiding life due to the ocean, which they believe has water twice that in the earth’s ocean altogether. “The Europa Clipper” will orbit Jupiter to collect information on the surface of the moon, interior, and atmosphere.
The information gathered will help the scientists establish suitable places in Europa where life is supported.
“I don’t know how I’ll feel, seeing this come together. I suspect it will be somewhat overwhelming,” said the project scientist. “It’s happening – it’s becoming real. It’s becoming tangible.”
After completing the spacecraft, they will take it to “JPL’s thermal vacuum chamber” for evaluation.
The testing aims to establish how the spacecraft will withstand the harsh conditions in space. It will be an accomplishment to get the spacecraft ready before the speculated deadline.
“All of the parallel paths of hardware and software development will start to join together in a way that’s very visible to the team,” according to JPL’s assistant project manager. “Everybody’s eyes turn toward the integrated system that’s coming together, which is exciting.”