The observed from the Hubble Space Telescope; and

The Europa Clipper
mission plans to send a vessel carrying nine scientific instruments into a wide
orbit of the planet Jupiter in order to study one of Jupiter’s nine moons,
Europa. In 2013, scientists observed what is thought to be water vapour pluming
from the moon out into space, leading them to believe that this moon could be currently
geologically active.1 The goal of the mission is to investigate
whether these theories are true by performing close flybys of Europa, gathering
and recording information on the far-off moon that is thought to have liquid
water hidden beneath its icy shell.1 The necessity for these flybys (as opposed to orbiting
the moon itself) comes from the radiation emanating from Jupiter that surrounds
Europa. If the orbiter were to orbit Europa instead of Jupiter, it would get “fried”
by the high radiation levels.3 This flyby method will allow the vessel to
gain large quantities of information over the course of several years. One of the goals of the Europa
Clipper is to attempt to fly the orbiter through the “plumes” of water vapour
that were observed from the Hubble Space Telescope; and to test the properties
of the particles it flies through.3 The initial
plan is to perform forty to forty-five flybys of Europa, getting as close as 25
kilometres and flying by as far as 2700 kilometres away from Europa’s surface.2
During these flybys, the Europa Clipper will take photos of the moon’s surface
with high-resolution cameras, use an ice-penetrating radar to determine how
thick the ice is on the surface and use instruments to determine the strength and
direction of Europa’s magnetic field.2 The mission also plans to
measure the gravity on Europa which will help scientists confirm definitively that
there is a liquid water ocean underneath its icy shell. Measuring the strength and
direction of the magnetic field will help scientists know not only how deep the
ocean is but also how much salt is in it.2 The various instruments
will work in tandem to paint a clearer picture of Europa, greatly helping
scientists consider future missions to Europa and providing them with important
information about this possibly geologically active moon that has the potential
to be applied to missions outside of the solar system.