Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 11:15 AM
SCIENCE AND RECONNAISSANCE FROM THE EUROPA CLIPPER MISSION CONCEPT
The Europa Clipper mission concept is the subject of a NASA-funded study by a joint JPL/APL science and technical team. The Clipper spacecraft would launch in the 2021 timeframe and would be placed in orbit around Jupiter to perform a detailed investigation of Europa, a world that shows strong evidence for a liquid water ocean beneath its icy crust, and which could host conditions favorable for life. As envisioned, a highly capable, radiation-tolerant spacecraft with a diverse instrument suite would make repeated close flybys of Europa. The Europa Clipper science objectives are: (1) Ocean and Ice Shell - Characterize the ice shell and any subsurface water, including their heterogeneity, ocean properties, and the nature of surface-ice-ocean exchange; (2) Composition - Understand the habitability of Europa's ocean through composition and chemistry; (3) Geology - Understand the formation of surface features, including sites of recent or current activity, and characterize high science interest localities. To maximize success of a potential future landed mission, the Europa Clipper would include a reconnaissance capability. Reconnaissance objectives are: (1) Landing Safety - Assess the distribution of surface hazards, the load-bearing capacity of the surface, the structure of the subsurface, and the regolith thickness for specific surface sites; (2) Scientific Value - Assess the composition of surface materials, the geological context of the surface, the potential for geological activity, the proximity of near surface water, and the potential for active upwelling of ocean material for reconnaissance sites. We here present an overview and updates on the mission concept, the current encounter trajectory, and science and reconnaissance objectives.