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Europa Clipper Sees An Instrument Change Over Cost Concerns

NASA has recently removed a previously approved instrument that had been selected for the Mission named Europa Clipper. They are making arrangements to look for ways to replace it soon with a less complex design. Growing cost growth was the reason cited by them for the sudden removal.

NASA made it official on the March 5, 2019 that it would no longer continue to support the ICEMAG instrument. ICEMAG is a magnetometer that was designed earlier to measure magnetic field in and around the moons of Jupiter. This instrument was one the nine initially selected for the development of the mission. ICEMAG is in its designing stage and yet according to NASA the amount of cost that it incurs to use the instrument has eventually led to the shutting down of its use from the mission. Thomas Zurebuchen, who is an associate researcher for science, mentioned in a memo that it was necessary as there was an unnecessary growth in the cost involved, there have also been proofs of uninvestigated future cost growths.

He mentioned that, a cost trigger had been installed on similar projects like ICEMAG, to determine any alterations from the initial plan. Last summer, ICEMAG exceeded a trigger for the costs involved. This report was reported in NASA on the February 14, 2019. NASA later investigated the problem with the utilization cost of the instrument. It was understood that the use of vector and scalar sensors that run on Helium, which is mainly utilized to measure the direction and strength of the magnetic fields, was the main cause of the cost increase.

The memo mentioned that the instrument had over exceeded its original cost by $16 million and landed at $45.6 million. There was also a growth of $8.3 million after the cost trigger was revised later. Hence such numbers have forced NASA to scrap the instrument from the project.

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