Europa Clipper Asks Big Questions Of The Jovian Moon

An image of the surface of Europa. The top half of the sphere is illuminated with the bottom half dark. The surface is traced with lineae, long lines across its surface of various hues of grey, white, and brown. The surface is a brown-grey, somewhat like Earth's Moon with the highest brightness areas appearing white.

Are we alone? While we certainly have lots of strange lifeforms to choose from as companions here on our blue marble, we have yet to know if there’s anything else alive out there in the vastness of space. One of the most promising places to look in our own solar neighborhood is Europa.

People in bunny suits swarm underneath the main section of the Europa Clipper. It is predominantly white, with various tubes and structures of silver metal protruding and many pieces of yellow kapton tape are visible. A large orange module is strapped to the side around the middle of the semi-cylindrical craft. Several other dark orange metallic plates that are much smaller adorn various pieces of the craft. It looks both chonky and delicate at the same time. Underneath its icy surface, Europa appears to have a sea that contains twice as much water as we have here on Earth. Launching later this year and arriving in 2030, NASA’s Europa Clipper will provide us with our most up-close-and-personal look at the Jovian Moon yet. In conjunction with observations from the ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE), scientists hope to gain enough new data to see if the conditions are right for life.

Given the massive amounts of radiation in the Jovian system, Europa Clipper will do 50 flybys of the moon over the course of four years to reduce damage to instruments as well as give it windows to transmit data back to Earth with less interference. With enough planning and luck, the mission could find promising sites for a future lander that might be able to better answer the question of if there actually is life on other worlds.

Some of the other moons around Jupiter could host life, like Io. Looking for life a little closer? How about on our nearest neighbor, Venus, or the ever popular Mars?

16 thoughts on “Europa Clipper Asks Big Questions Of The Jovian Moon

  1. haven’t done this in a while because it’s a bit of a put-down.
    But this article is essentially saying “hey we’re launching a rocket this year, and who knows what we’ll find”. Hardly an article related to hacking, but I’m sure some very creative people will come up with a way that this is a hack after all.

    1. Seeing that not every launch succeeds, and out of those launches not every probe makes it, it is a hack and a big one to put a probe in another celestial object. Even if the article is a bit light in hacky details. Still looking for more info on the computer aboard the voyagers, block diagrams and high level descriptions do not cut it at this point. :)

  2. This is nothing more than more crap on top of more crap….we already know that there’s water….water carries microbial bio things..just land an craft into Jupiter’s atmosphere already and call up the rocky core bit bye bit… we’ve been doing this for years now…all we need is an larger model so people could get their freak on🤣

    1. Even ignoring the engineering challenges in “taking a sample” through a mile of extraterrestrial ice, Nasa doesn’t want their multimillion probe to land on an incline and tip into a crevice.

      Even the Apollo program did a flyby mission to determine landing sites.

  3. I’m not one of the “Where’s the hack?” crowd. I really do like to see these types of posts from time to time here.

    But I have have to ask: What prompted this post? There’s not a lot of meat to chew on here. It’s not news, and it’s not new, and we are a half-year away from launch. To add insult, it links to a grubbing MIT Tech Review post.

    It doesn’t even include a link to the canonical

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