NASA Europa Clipper High Gain Antenna Tested

The High-Gain antenna (HGA) for NASA’s Europa Clipper, which will conduct nearly 50 flybys of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, was at Langley’s Experimental Test Range (ETR) in March and April and then again in June and July so researchers could assess its ability to precisely beam data from the spacecraft back to Earth. Between those visits to Langley, the HGA went to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for vibration and thermal vacuum testing to check its ability to withstand both the shaking of launch and the temperature extremes of space, respectively.

The approximately 10-foot-diameter HGA will beam back information from Europa Clipper’s nine instruments, which will gather data on Europa’s atmosphere, surface and interior. Scientists have strong evidence that Europa is home to a vast and deep subsurface ocean of water that could potentially support life. In fact, there could be more liquid water on Europa than on Earth — yet it is smaller than our Moon.