There is no planned mission to send a lander to Europa, but the new antenna design will make it possible to stay in touch with the Earth and withstand the harsh environment there.
Europa, one of Jupiter’s Galilean moons, has an ocean estimated anywhere from 40 to 100 miles (60 to 150 kilometers) deep that spans the entire moon, hidden below the thick layer of ice. It has twice as much liquid water as Earth’s oceans. Water occasionally erupts through the cracks in the ice as high as 200km above the surface.
Taking into account the harsh condition on Europa, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) designed a robotic lander to withstand them. With the antenna being the key factor, as it is required to maintain a direct-to-Earth link across more than 550 million miles (900 million km) when Earth and Jupiter are at their point of greatest separation.
To survive the onslaught of ionizing particles from Jupiter the antenna had to be radiation hardened. Required to be light and large enough not to jeopardize the lander during takeoff and landing. Though it was a difficult task, the engineers managed to build a revolutionary design to successfully implement in the future missions for other destinations in the solar system.
Mission to Europa
The only planned mission to Europa is the Clipper orbiter. The NASA mission will study moons chemistry and geology and will likely launch in 2024. Presently any such lander is conceptual, however, the concept has been funded keeping in mind the need to develop crucial new technologies for any successful mission on the icy world. Europa has a topography we never attempted to land before.