The Clipper team rates its performance in the controlled environment of the electromagnetic testing facility, much as the Mars helicopter team used JPL's Space Simulator to prove that the unmanned aerial vehicle is functioning. In particular, they ensure that they are extremely accurate when it comes to pointing out their goals, as this is the key to sending high-resolution images and large volumes of scientific data.
"The Measurements Made on the Internet ETR will show that the Europa Clipper mission can bring back a great deal of scientific data on Earth and ultimately determine the livability of Europe," said Thomas Magner, assistant project manager of Europa Clipper.
Scientists believe that the thick, icy crust of the moon is hiding a global salty ocean. A NASA official once said it was one of the "most promising places that could possibly have life in the solar system" outside of our own planet and is definitely worth a visit.
While the Clipper team is almost done with its current round of testing, it plans to do more in the same facility before the spacecraft takes off. The Europa Clipper is expected to hit the market in 2020 and, depending on the launch vehicle and other factors, take three to seven years to reach the gas giant.