An ultraviolet spectrograph (UVS) designed and built by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is the first scientific instrument to be delivered for integration onto NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft. Scheduled to launch in 2024 and arrive in the Jovian system by 2030, Europa Clipper will conduct detailed reconnaissance of Jupiter’s moon Europa and investigate whether it could harbor conditions suitable for life.
Europa-UVS will be one of nine science instruments in the mission payload. The instrument collects ultraviolet light with a telescope and creates images to help determine the composition of Europa’s atmospheric gases and surface materials.
Once it arrives, Europa Clipper will orbit Jupiter and ultimately perform repeated close flybys of the icy moon. Previous observations show strong evidence for a subsurface ocean of liquid water that could host conditions favorable for life.
SwRI has decades of experience designing and building instruments for space missions. SwRI has provided ultraviolet spectrographs for other spacecraft, including ESA’s Rosetta comet orbiter, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), the Juno spacecraft now orbiting Jupiter, and ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) planned for a 2023 launch to orbit both Jupiter and its moon Ganymede.
In addition to performing atmospheric studies, Europa-UVS will also search for evidence of potential plumes erupting from within Europa.
Read more about the delivery here.