The instrument sensor head is shown in the middle of the image as a large metallic device, gold in color, with wiring attached. The sensor is resting on a table in a cleanroom. There are no people visible in the image. Multi-layer insulation is visible on the top and underneath the instrument. On the side of the instrument is a panel with information etched in, including “SUDA SENSOR HEAD”, “LASP” (which refers to the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics), and the mascot symbol for the University of Boulder, which is a buffalo.
Source: NASA/LASP/CU Boulder
Published: August 16, 2022

The instrument sensor head for Europa Clipper’s SUrface Dust Analyzer (SUDA) is seen in a clean room at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder. This image captures the installation of multi-layer insulation prior to the instrument sensor head undergoing thermal balance testing at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Tiny meteorites eject bits of Europa’s surface into space and a subsurface ocean or in-ice water reservoirs might vent material into space as plumes. To study this, SUDA will scoop up larger particles from these plumes and identify their chemistry, revealing Europa’s surface composition including potential organic molecules. SUDA can detect salts in the dust and ice grains, providing additional information about a subsurface ocean. If a subsurface ocean or reservoir is venting material into space as plumes, SUDA will help us to determine if Europa’s water is suitable for some form of life.

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.

ENLARGE