Destination Europa Status Estimated launch 2022 to 2025
NASA’S Europa Clipper spacecraft is a bold proposal to perform the most in-depth study of Jupiter’s icy moon yet. By making dozens of flybys of Europa, the spacecraft will repeatedly swoop past the surface as low as just 25 kilometres. The spacecraft is designed to map the surface of Europa, while it will also use a radar instrument to work out how thick its icy shell is. It will also look for signs of plumes of warm water erupting from the surface and try to examine the particles in the moon’s thin atmosphere. There have also been suggestions the spacecraft will carry a lander too, although that might now become a separate mission. The big uncertainty is what rocket will launch the Clipper – either NASA’S much-delayed Space Launch System (SLS), or perhaps another vehicle all together.