The triangular-shaped silver-colored Europa Clipper Europa Clipper vault plate is covered in a protective plastic bag with a clear front and silver back. There is a bit of gold tape in the upper left corner, and a white label on the bag.
Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Published: May 7, 2024
Historical Date: May 3, 2024

The vault plate just before being installed on NASA's Europa Clipper spacecraft on May 3, 2024. The plate is made of tantalum metal that's about 1 millimeter thick, about 7 inches tall, and 11 inches wide (18 by 28 centimeters). It's part of the structure that will protect Europa Clipper’s electronics from Jupiter’s harmful radiation. The inward-facing side of Europa Clipper’s vault plate features a handwritten poem by U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón, the Drake Equation handwritten by astrophysicist Frank Drake, a drawing of the Jovian system, a tribute to planetary scientist Ron Greeley, and the radio emission lines known as the “Water Hole.” Atop the drawing of the Jovian system is a fingernail-sized silicon chip etched with the names of those who participated in NASA’s “Message in a Bottle” campaign. The Europa Clipper orbiter is being assembled in the clean room of High Bay 1 at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California.