Included in the payload of science instruments for NASA’s Europa Clipper is the Europa Imaging System (EIS) Narrow Angle Camera (NAC). Shown here at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, the engineering model, which is used to test the instrument, is mounted on the two-axis gimbal mechanism that allows the NAC telescope to be pointed independently. The model consists of the NAC telescope, electronics, gimbal, and cables, covered in thermal blankets.
EIS will allow groundbreaking measurements and map most of Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter with an ocean under its crust, at resolutions previous missions could only achieve in small areas. EIS data will offer fresh insights into Europa’s geological structure and processes and will be used to search for evidence of recent or current geologic activity, including potential erupting plumes.
With an internal global ocean twice the size of Earth’s oceans combined, Europa may have the potential to harbor life. NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft will swoop around Jupiter on an elliptical path, dipping close to the moon on each flyby to collect data. Understanding Europa’s habitability will help scientists better understand how life developed on Earth and the potential for finding life beyond our planet.
More information about Europa and Europa Clipper can be found here: europa.nasa.gov.