Engineers and technicians carefully lower the tall core of NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft during a maneuver to position it in the High Bay 1 clean room of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Standing 10 feet (3 meters) high and 5 feet (1.5 meters) wide, the craft’s main body will be the focus of attention in the facility’s ultra-hygienic High Bay 1 as engineers and technicians assemble the spacecraft for its launch to Jupiter’s moon Europa in October 2024.
Europa Clipper will conduct nearly 50 flybys of Europa, which scientists are confident harbors an internal ocean containing twice as much water as Earth’s oceans combined. And the moon may currently have conditions suitable for supporting life. The spacecraft’s nine science instruments will gather data on the moon’s atmosphere, surface, and interior – information that scientists will use to gauge the depth and salinity of the ocean, the thickness of the ice crust, and potential plumes that may be venting subsurface water into space.