After successfully completing its Key Decision Point-B review on February 15, NASA’s Europa space exploration mission has been given the green light to move onto its initial design phase at the end of this month.
Every NASA mission must pass each stage of review, showing NASA that the mission meets all the requirements to complete the process and launch. Phase A includes conceptual study and preliminary analyses of the missions, phase B is preliminary designs, and phases C and D are final designs, creating the spacecraft, testing, and finally launching it.
In the Europa review, Phase A included picking out which instruments the team wanted to include on the spacecraft to study the potentially habitable moon. It had already started testing spacecraft components, but that will continue into phase B.
The current plan is to have the mission launch some time in the 2020’s and orbit Jupiter as much as every two weeks, estimating between 40-45 flybys through the duration of the mission. Along with studying the structure of Europa and learning more about the composition of its ocean, the mission will take thousands of high-resolution images of the icy moon.