The massive high-gain antenna for NASA's Europa Clipper mission is complete. The antenna is nearly 10 feet (3 meters) wide and will be integrated along with other telecommunications hardware into the spacecraft's propulsion module. The antenna will download science data and allow ground controllers to send and receive commands and data between Earth and the spacecraft in Jupiter orbit – more than a million times farther from Earth than the International Space Station's orbits.
It was designed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, and aerospace vendor Applied Aerospace Structures Corporation (AASC) in Stockton, California.
With an internal global ocean under a thick layer of ice, Jupiter's moon Europa may have the potential to harbor existing life. Europa Clipper will swoop around Jupiter in an elliptical orbit, dipping close to the moon on each flyby to collect data. Understanding Europa's habitability will help scientists better understand how life developed on Earth and the potential for finding life beyond our planet. Europa Clipper is set to launch in 2024.