[Via Satellite 10-13-2014] NASA is seeking ways to complement a conceptual mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa with small satellites that could fly with a primary spacecraft as auxiliary payloads. The agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has selected 10 U.S. academic institutions to draft potential CubeSats that would support a possible future mission known as Europa Clipper.
The Europa Clipper spacecraft’s primary purpose would be investigating whether or not Europa can harbor life. The tag-along CubeSats would study gravitational and magnetic fields, radiation, atmospheric and plume science, as well as evaluate future landing sites on the moon’s icy surface.
“Using CubeSats for planetary exploration is just now becoming possible, so we want to explore how a future mission to Europa might take advantage of them,” said Barry Goldstein, pre-project manager for the Europa Clipper mission concept.
JPL will provide contract winners with up to $25,000 each for their CubeSat concepts. The study is scheduled for completion by summer 2015.
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