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May 29, 2024

NASA’s Europa Clipper Mission Set to Launch in 2024, Carrying Over 2.4 Million Names to Jupiter’s Icy Moon

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Dec 31, 2023

NASA’s much-anticipated Europa Clipper mission is set to launch in October 2024 on a journey to explore Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. The spacecraft will carry over 2.4 million names of people from around the world, following a “Send Your Name” campaign that concluded on December 31st, 2022.

Europa Clipper to Embark on Daring Mission to Jupiter’s Moon

The Europa Clipper will conduct a detailed survey of Europa and use a sophisticated suite of science instruments to probe the icy crust of the moon, which contains a vast subsurface ocean that may have conditions suitable for life. The mission aims to gather key insights into Europa’s interior structure and composition and determine if the moon has signatures of current or past habitability.

As NASA engineer Jim McClure notes, “This campaign has enabled the public to actively participate in this mission in a very personal way. When the spacecraft orbits Europa, it will be very meaningful to know that over 2 million names from Earth will be along for the ride.”

The spacecraft is currently undergoing final integration and testing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. In October 2024, it will launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Europa Clipper Mission Details
Destination Jupiter’s moon Europa
Launch Date October 2024
Launch Vehicle SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket
Arrival at Europa April 2030
Primary Mission Duration At least 3 years
Instruments 9 scientific instruments
Key Objectives – Study Europa’s ice shell & ocean
– Determine composition & geology
– Search for signs of current or past habitability

Over 2.4 Million Names Make Celestial Journey as NASA’s “Message in a Bottle”

The Send Your Name campaign that concluded on New Year’s Eve 2022 compiled a collection of over 2.4 million names submitted by people wishing to symbolically ride along on humanity’s coming mission to Europa.

Participants were able to submit their names via NASA’s website or by mailing in a paper coupon. The signatures have been etched onto a microchip along with essays and artworks inspired by the journey to Europa.

As NASA explains, this poetic tribute transforms the spacecraft into a cosmic “message in a bottle”, sailing among the stars with evidence of human hopes and dreams. When the chip reaches Europa, it will orbit the moon along with the scientific instruments, capturing a symbolic piece of humanity at this unique moment in space exploration.

Ambitious Science Goals to Unravel Europa’s Secrets

The Europa Clipper carries an ambitious slate of 9 instruments to map the moon and investigate its interior ocean. Using an advanced radar system, the mission will peer through the icy surface in unprecedented detail to gauge the depth and salinity of Europa’s ocean and determine if water plumes are venting from the surface.

Other instruments will study the surface geology and composition, measure the thickness of the ice shell, capture high-resolution imagery, and analyze particles in the moon’s thin atmosphere. Together, these instruments aim to shed light on Europa’s potential for harboring conditions suitable for life.

As Dr. Curt Niebur, NASA’s Europa Clipper program scientist, explains:

“We have instruments that will be able to investigate what the surface is made of, image its geology in incredible resolution, and figure out how thick or thin the ice shell is. And then we have instruments that will enable us to look down through the ice shell and measure the depth of the ocean. It really will be like having X-ray vision.”

Further Exploration to Kick Off New Era of Ocean Worlds Research

The Europa Clipper is a pioneering mission into the domain of “ocean worlds” – celestial bodies with vast oceans beneath their surfaces. As such, it kicks off an exciting era of solar system exploration that may fundamentally reshape our understanding of habitability.

As Dr. Curt Niebur notes:

“Ocean worlds are one of the most exciting frontiers in all of planetary science and Europa is ground zero for ocean world exploration. We have updated our scientific understanding of Europa tremendously in recent years and the Europa Clipper mission will take all of that new knowledge and push the boundaries of our exploration and understanding substantially farther.”

The insights gleaned from Europa Clipper will pave the way for an even more ambitious future mission – landing a spacecraft directly on Europa’s surface to search for biosignatures in the ocean using ice-penetrating drills. With two dedicated missions devoted to unraveling its secrets, Europa may ultimately reveal whether life exists beyond Earth.


Through an imaginative “message in a bottle” time capsule and a daring voyage across the solar system, the Europa Clipper embodies humanity’s eternal quest to understand our cosmic origins and place in the universe. As over 2 million names make a symbolic journey to a distant ocean world, the mission poetically bridges science and exploration with human creativity, aspiration, and storytelling.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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