The SUDA sensor head rests upon a table in a clean room. The sensor head is gold in color, shaped slightly like a drum on its side. It is attached a device that lifts the sensor head from the table, and is seen slightly to the ride of center in the image. An engineer wearing white full body coveralls, light blue gloves, glasses, and a mask stands behind the sensor head and the table it is on, looking down at the sensor head. Two additional engineers stand in the distance on either side of the sensor head, both wearing full white body coveralls, masks, and light blue gloves.
Source: NASA/CU Boulder/Glenn Asakawa
Published: August 16, 2022

A mechanical engineer is shown configuring Europa Clipper’s SUrface Dust Analyzer (SUDA) sensor head for magnetics testing. The sensor head is shown in a clean room at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) 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.