Feb 23, 2017 02:34 AM EST
Another step has been taken by NASA's Europa Clipper. The flyby spacecraft has finished phase A and is onto phase B.
NASA is moving forward with their mission to see if Europa has indeed life in it icy Ocean. NASA's Europa multiple-flyby mission effectively finished its Key Decision Point-B review. On Feb 27, NASA is going to start its initial design phase, known as "Phase B," beginning.
During Phase A, picking and accommodating of 10 instruments for the searching and observing of Europa was done. In this new phase, the initial design for the systems and subsystems for the mission will occur. Also, some of the things to do in phase a like testing of spacecraft components such as solar cells and science instrument detectors will continue. Phase B is said to continue until 2018, reported Phys.
Moreover, it will be in phase B that subsystem vendors will be picked. The prototype hardware elements for the science instruments will also be chosen. NASA is also planning on building spacecraft subassemblies and it will be tested too.
According to Popular Mechanics, Europa is one of Jupiter's moons that might possibly support life. It is a subterranean ocean and scientists think that it is 100 kilometers deep. Although there are other moons that have water, like Jupiter's Ganymede and Callisto and Saturn's Enceladus, the Europa has the highest possibility. Moreover, there are brownish-orange streaks that dot Europa's surface and those might be salt. Since there is salt in the ocean, scientists believed that the ocean floor will be rocky as it is salt water.
NASA's goal is to launch a spacecraft in the 2020s. It would take several years before that happens but scientists are sure Jupiter's Europa will be explored more. If a spacecraft is indeed launched, there will be 40 to 45 flybys to observe and see the icy ocean up close. It will try to examine the surroundings and exterior of Jupiter's Europa closer.