No, no sensationalist gossip or obscure rumors to gloat about, but a real space mission to perhaps the most exciting celestial body in our solar system. MEET JUICE!
The year 2023 has arrived. The countdown has begun. This April – after years of tinkering and testing – ESA will finally be launched Jupiter Ise Satellites Explorer – Short juice – in the air. An amazing mission to Jupiter and some of its most exciting moons!
As it stands, JUICE will take to the skies from Kourou, French Guiana, sometime between April 5 and April 25. The Ariane 5 rocket will propel the probe into space, after which the probe will also need gravitational fluctuations from Earth and Venus to reach Jupiter. It will be a long journey. Arrival is currently scheduled for July 2031. However, about six months before arrival, JUICE will already begin observing its final destination: Jupiter and its moons.
Did you know…
… was the juice still in the Netherlands in 2021? The probe reached Noordwijk in April of that year. There it was tested at ESTEC’s ESA test center Large area simulator Developed. In this simulation, the conditions that the probe would experience in space were simulated as closely as possible. This made it possible to test whether JUICE performed as expected under these conditions. After passing these tests, JUICE traveled to Toulouse for further testing. The last stop on Earth is Kourou in French Guiana. From here, JUICE will be launched in a few months. This launch is also very special; It is actually the last launch using the Ariane 5 rocket. After this launch, it will switch to the Ariane 6 rocket.
Once close to Jupiter, JUICE will orbit the gas giant with the help of a gravitational pendulum from Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. Once in orbit around Jupiter, JUICE has four years to uncover the great secrets of both Jupiter and some of the gas giant’s moons – Europa, Callisto and Ganymede. The main goal of the mission is to find out how habitable worlds can appear around gas giants. We’re not just increasing our understanding of Jupiter and its moons; The findings may also have implications for the myriad of gas giants orbiting other stars. Because if habitable worlds can be formed around a gas giant in our solar system, why can’t it happen around gas giants outside our solar system?
Europe is one of the worlds that scientists usually care about above average. The moon has an icy surface, but it is believed that there is a liquid ocean beneath, in which extraterrestrial life may be waiting to be discovered. JUICE will get a closer look at this moon — considered one of the best candidates for extraterrestrial life in our solar system — during two flybys in July 2032. For example, JUICE will research the composition of JUICE’s surface and actively search for liquid water below the surface. JUICE must also look for plumes of water escaping from Europa’s surface. It is still not clear where the water in these columns comes from; It is hoped, of course, that it has to do with ocean water that has somehow managed to force its way through the ice sheet. After all, in this scenario we would be able to sample the subterranean ocean more easily than expected. But at present it cannot be ruled out that the water originates in the salt water reservoirs located in the ice sheet itself.
But it’s not just Europe that can enjoy juicy interest; The probe also passes Callisto several times. During those flights, JUICE will get a closer look at this crater-filled world, which may also be hiding an ocean beneath the surface. But bridges have another function; They need to adjust JUICE’s orbit so that it can also better explore Jupiter’s higher latitudes and poles.
In the year 2034, JUICE should make history by settling into orbit around Ganymede. Then the probe will go down in history as the first spacecraft to orbit the moon of a planet other than Earth. From this orbit, JUICE will study, among other things, the Ganymede magnetosphere, as well as the moon’s atmosphere and surface. JUICE will also investigate the ocean that is thought to lurk beneath the surface, further exploring the idea that this moon could be habitable as well.
During this last part of the mission, Ganymede’s gravity pulls the juice a bit. At first, the probe will still have enough fuel to tackle it, but gradually JUICE’s reserves will also be depleted and it will get closer and closer to Ganymede, eventually reaching the moon sometime at the end of 2035.
By then, we will have learned a lot about Jupiter and its potentially habitable moons. Thanks not only to JUICE from ESA, but also to NASA’s Clipper: an orbital vehicle that will take off into the sky in 2024. Clipper will conduct specific research on the habitability of Europa and must find a suitable landing site for the Europa Lander, which will have to search for traces of life on the surface Super Moon a few years later.
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