U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón is standing in the center of this image, facing the camera, wearing a dark blue suit. Behind Limón is a long console stretching from both sides of the image with multiple screens. Signs in the background read “Data Controller”, and a sign on the wall behind Limón reads “Charles Elachi Mission Control”. Limón is standing in front of a glass light box that is inlaid into the carpeted floor. Within the box is a metal plaque that reads “Center of the Universe”.
Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Published: January 30, 2023

U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón is writing an original poem dedicated to NASA’s Europa Clipper mission. The poem will be engraved on the spacecraft, as a way to connect two water worlds - Earth and Europa, a moon of Jupiter believed to contain a vast ocean.

In this image, Limón is seen standing in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Space Flight Operations Facility, commonly called “mission control”. The Space Flight Operations Center, a National Historic Landmark, has been operational and staffed every day since 1964. Here engineers send and receive commands for any spacecraft in, and beyond, our Solar System.

Europa Clipper will travel 1.8 billion miles on its path to the Jupiter system. The poem will be part of an upcoming NASA-led program that will invite international public participation. The spacecraft is set to launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in October 2024, and by 2030, it will be in orbit around Jupiter. It will conduct multiple flybys of the planet’s icy moon Europa to gather detailed measurements and determine if the moon has conditions suitable for life. Europa, with its internal ocean, is considered one of the most promising habitable environments in our solar system, beyond Earth.

Limón was appointed 24th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in 2022. The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.