Elon Musk's SpaceX to Help NASA Find Life on Jupiter's Moon
SpaceX chosen to launch NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft, which will search for life on one of Jupiter’s moons.
MERRITT ISLAND, FLORIDA — In October of 2024 NASA will use SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket to launch its Europa Clipper spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It says the contract award amount for launch services is around $178 million.
According to Space.com the announcement marks an end to lengthy delays around the project, which was initially planning to rely on NASA’s own Space Launch System for its launch. The development of that system has been haunted by delays and cost overruns.
With its launch window finally confirmed, Europa Clipper is now set to conduct a detailed survey of Europa and investigate whether the icy moon has conditions suitable for life.
NASA says its key mission objectives are “to produce high-resolution images of Europa's surface, determine its composition and look for signs of recent or ongoing geological activity.”
It will also “measure the thickness of Europa’s icy shell, search for subsurface lakes, and determine the depth and salinity of Europa's ocean.”
Europa has already been the subject of much previous study, with scientists last year demonstrating that the relentless barrage of radiation Europa receives from Jupiter makes the moon glow in the dark.
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