March 5 was an important date for NASA when it decided to stop developing ICEMAG magnetometer. ICEMAG is an acronym for Interior Characterization of Europa Using Magnetometer. ICEMAG was becoming an overhead on costs reaching almost thrice to its original estimated cost $45.6 million. But, such permanent stop on the development of an instrument with a decision to replace one of the instruments on the Europa Clipper Mission stirred concern in the scientists.
The replacement will be done by a less expensive and capable instrument called Facility Magnetometer. It will also collect some magnetic field like its expensive twin ICEMAG from the surroundings of the icy moon of Jupiter called Europa.
The new instrument will lack some components present in ICEMAG which led to the financial overhead. But, on a positive side, it will depend on more conventional fluxgate magnetometers that sometimes face offset errors.
Pappalardo, the project scientist mentioned that due to the errors, the new replacement can miss Level1 science requirements like estimation of thickness of ice shell at Europa or measuring ocean depth accurately.
The clipper mission is planned to be launched in 2023 with some clashes on viewpoints in its launch. 2019 fiscal year made the use of SLS for the mission which would let the spacecraft to smoothly fly to Jupiter without any assistance of the gravity. The 2020 fiscal year’s budget proposal wants a commercial launch vehicle which can increase the time for travel by years since it will require gravity assists. The project is searching on the options without the use of SLS.
In all such uncertainty scenarios, the Europa lander mission is also struggling for funds from the government. So, with whatever funds they have acquired, NASA will work on developing early technologies and techniques for risk mitigation for Europa Lander.