The agency selected SpaceX as the contractor and will pay Elon Musk's company $178 million to launch the mission. SpaceX's Falcon Heavy super-heavy launch vehicle will launch the Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter from the Kennedy Space Center in October 2024. The main objective of the mission is to investigate whether icy Europe could have conditions suitable for life.
NASA approved the Europa Clipper project back in 2015. The research spacecraft will orbit Jupiter's moon Europe 45 times and provide scientists with detailed pictures of the world that could be hiding an ocean beneath its icy crust.
The Europa Clipper research probe will be equipped with a modern set of tools to study the surface of Europa and will fly to the surface of the satellite to capture high-resolution images. During the mission, NASA experts will also determine the chemical composition of the satellite, study its geological activity, and measure the thickness of the satellite's ice cover. In addition, the spacecraft will search for underground lakes and determine whether organisms can exist in such conditions.
Europa's surface temperatures range from -150 °C to -190 °C. The satellite has very high radiation as its orbit passes through Jupiter's radiation belt. The probe must be designed so that it can withstand radiation as it approaches Europa.
Despite the radiation, NASA points out that there is a high probability that there is an ocean with liquid non-radioactive water under the ice sheet of Europa. And this may indicate favorable conditions for life.