NASA Confirms Key Phase Of Europa Clipper's Mission To Jupiter's Icy Moon

NASA confirmed the next phase of "Europa Clipper" mission targeting the ice-encrusted moon of Jupiter, which is considered a prime target in the search for life beyond Earth. The decision allows the mission to progress to completion of final design, followed by the construction and testing of the spacecraft and science payload. "We are all excited about the decision that moves the Europa Clipper mission one key step closer to unlocking the mysteries of this ocean world," said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We are building upon the scientific insights received from the flagship Galileo and Cassini spacecraft and working to advance our understanding of our cosmic origin, and even life elsewhere." The mission will conduct an in-depth exploration of Jupiter's moon, Europa, and investigate whether the conditions in the icy moon are suitable for life. NASA intends to develop this expensive space mission in a cost-effective manner. Originally scheduled to launch in 2025, NASA is now planning to advance the launch date of the Europa Clipper spacecraft by two years, to 2023. The space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for the Science Mission Directorate, are responsible for developing the ambitious space mission. Europa Clipper is managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. NASA estimates that Europa holds a 170 kilometer-deep body of water under its icy shell, which possibly has the ideal biological conditions.