Artist's concept of the proposed Europa Clipper space probe.
|Mission type||Multiple flybys of Europa while in Jupiter orbit|
|Launch date||Early 2020s (proposed)|
|Launch vehicle||Atlas V 551 or SLS|
|Mission duration||Cruise: 6.4 years
(Atlas V and VEEGA)
Cruise: 1.9 years
Science: 3.5 years
|Orbits||32  to 48 |
|Homepage||Europa Clipper - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory|
|Power||150W from MMRTG or Solar cells |
The goals of the proposed Europa Clipper space probe are to explore Europa, investigate its habitability and aid in the selection of future landing sites. Specifically, the objectives are to study:
- Ice shell and ocean: Confirm the existence, and characterize the nature, of water within or beneath the ice, and processes of surface-ice-ocean exchange.
- Composition: Distribution and chemistry of key compounds and the links to ocean composition.
- Geology: Characteristics and formation of surface features, including sites of recent or current activity.
The Europa Clipper would not orbit Europa, but instead orbit Jupiter and conduct at least 32 low-altitude flybys of Europa during its mission. Each flyby will cover a different sector of Europa in order to achieve a medium-quality global topographic survey, including ice thickness.
- Shortwave Infrared Spectrometer (SWIRS)
- Ice-penetrating radar (IPR)
- Stereo Topographical Imager (TI)
- Neutral Mass Spectrometer (NMS)
- Langmuir probes
The scientists proposing this mission are also considering deploying several nanosatellites from the spacecraft near Europa. Europa Clipper will relay signals from the satellites with its high gain antenna back to Earth. With a booster stage, some nanosatellites will be capable of entering orbit around Europa. However, including additional mass would only be possible if the Europa Clipper is launched with the powerful Space Launch System (SLS) heavy lift launch vehicle.
Europa Clipper would inherit tested technology of the Galileo and Juno Jupiter orbiters with regards to radiation protection. Shielding will be provided by 150 kilograms of material. To maximize its effectiveness, the electronics will be nested in the core of the spacecraft for additional radiation protection.
Europa has emerged as one of the top locations in the Solar System in terms of potential habitability and the possibility of hosting extraterrestrial life. If this mission is accepted by the U.S. Federal Government and NASA, an official budget request of $2 billion would have to be submitted for the fiscal year 2015.
During March 2013, $75 million USD were authorized to expand on the formulation of mission activities, mature the proposed science goals, and fund preliminary instrument development, as suggested in 2011 by the Planetary Science Decadal Survey. 
The mission's science definition team is chaired by Louise Prockter from the Johns Hopkins University's the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), and Barry Goldstein from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), who presented an updated concept for Europa Clipper in July 2013.
In September 2013 it was decided that solar panels are the least expensive option to power the spacecraft. Early analysis suggest that each panel will have a surface area of 18m2 and produce 150 watts continuously when pointed towards the sun while at Jupiter. One of the solar panels would have an output similar to a radioisotope thermoelectric generator like the Juno mission. While in Europa's shadow, batteries will enable the spacecraft to continue gathering data. However, ionizing radiation can damage solar cells. The Europa Clipper's orbit causes the spacecraft pass through Jupiter's intense magnetosphere, which is expected to gradually degrade the solar cells as the mission progresses.
A more reliable alternative to solar panels is Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators, fueled with plutonium-238. The power source has already been demonstrated in the Mars Science Laboratory mission. Five units are currently available, with one reserved for the Mars 2020 rover mission and another as backup. With the restart of plutonium production, it is feasible to use MMRTGs on Europa Clipper.
- Europa Jupiter System Mission – Laplace
- Europa Lander by Russia
- Europa Orbiter
- Exploration of Jupiter
- Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer
- "Europa Clipper". Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA). November 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
- "NASA’s Europa Mission Concept Progresses on the Back Burner". Space News. 22 July 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
- Dreier, Casey (12 December 2013). "Europa: No Longer a "Should," But a "Must"". The Planetary Society. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
- Dreier, Casey (5 September 2013). "NASA's Europa Mission Concept Rejects ASRGs -- May Use Solar Panels at Jupiter Instead". The Planetary Society. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
- Kane, Van (26 May 2013). "Europa Clipper Update". Future Planetary Exploration. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
- Pappalardo, Robert T.; S. Vance, F. Bagenal, B.G. Bills, D.L. Blaney, D.D. Blankenship, W.B. Brinckerhoff, et al. (2013). "Science Potential from a Europa Lander". Astrobiology 13 (8). doi: 10.1089/ast.2013.1003. Retrieved 2013-12-14.
- Senske, D. (2 October 2012), "Europa Mission Concept Study Update" (PDF), Presentation to Planetary Science Subcommittee, retrieved 2013-12-14
- Pappalardo, Robert; Brian Cooke, Barry Goldstein, Louise Prockter, Dave Senske and Tom Magner. (July 2013), "The Europa Clipper" (PDF), OPAG Update, Lunar and Planetary Institute, retrieved 2013-12-14
- Schulze-Makuch, Dirk; and Irwin, Louis N. (2001). "Alternative Energy Sources Could Support Life on Europa" (PDF). Departments of Geological and Biological Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso. Archived from the original on 3 July 2006. Retrieved 21 December 2007.
- Zabarenko, Deborah (7 March 2011). "Lean U.S. missions to Mars, Jupiter moon recommended". Reuters.
- "Destination: Europa". Europa SETI. 29 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-13.