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June 22, 2014 AT 3:00 am

Draper Labs Develops Probe To Orbit and Land On Europa For NASA

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Aerospace technology firm Draper Laboratories is developing a low-cost probe that will orbit Europa and then release smaller instruments down to the surface. via The Atlantic:

In its first stage, a small satellite about as large as a half-gallon of milk would orbit the moon. Using two highly accurate accelerometers, it could sense small changes in Europa’s gravitational field, eventually mapping the gravity of the entire surface. These detailed gravity maps could then suggest the location of watery oceans below the planet’s surface—or the openings to these oceans.

Once an ocean (or the entryway to one) was found, the probe would begin its second stage. The small satellite would release even smaller instruments over the interesting region. These “chipsats,” each no larger than a fingernail, could enter Europa’s thin atmosphere unharmed and float down to the surface.

Read more.


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