Source: NASA/LASP-CU Boulder
Published: May 12, 2022

In this video of pre-flight environmental testing, engineers at the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) load Europa Clipper’s SUrface Dusty Analyzer (SUDA) instrught flight model into a vacuum chamber attached to a unique dust accelerator in the IMPACT lab at LASP/CU Boulder.

Once a vacuum is established, the team opens the dust line so that particles with sizes ranging between a few nanometers and a few microns (less than the thickness of a human hair) and traveling up to 70 km/s (about 156,000 mph, or more than double the speed at which Earth orbits the Sun) are sent into the instrument’s aperture. This allows the team to characterize SUDA’s capabilities as a mass spectrometer and velocity sensor. The team then performs another test, during which they heat the impact target to protoflight temperatures (about 140°C) to ensure the components will function properly when exposed to the harsh conditions of space. After the testing, the team extracts the instrument from the chamber to return it to a cleanroom.