The Ariane 5 rocket, the last rocket used in the European Space Agency’s mission, is ready to launch the Juice probe from Europe’s Kourou spaceport in French Guiana. Juice is an abbreviation for Jupiter Ise Satellites Explorerthe largest spacecraft in the history of Europe, which will take over
today Tomorrow is the ambitious scientific mission to explore Jupiter and its moons.
Specifically, Juice will make observations of the gas planet and its three large oceanic moons – Callisto, Europa and Ganymede – using an array of 10 science instruments, an experiment and a radiation monitor.
It will be the first space mission to orbit a moon other than the moon: Ganymede, the ninth largest body in the solar system (behind Mars, and ahead of Titan and Mercury). Ganymede has an inner ocean that could hold more water than all the oceans on Earth, but with liquid water spread between ice sheets, and not in contact with the surface, as Europa is thought to be (a better candidate for finding life).
On his long and complicated journey to Jupiter, Joss will perform many gravity passes. A year and four months after launch, it will become the first spacecraft to perform lunar and terrestrial gravity assist. After another year, he will provide another helping with Venus. 13 months later, in September 2026, another event occurred with Earth. And in January 2029, it will make its last gravitational aid to the planet, arriving at Jupiter in July 2031. For just over three years, Juice will wander the ocean moons, and between December 2034 and September 2035, it will orbit Ganymede.
JUICE is equipped with cameras and sensors to analyze the chemical composition of the moons’ ice crusts, and magnetometers and radars to create detailed maps of the moons’ surfaces and, for the first time, look beneath. It will also study Jupiter, measuring wind speeds and temperatures in the gas giant’s atmosphere and detecting chemical compounds in parts of the planet’s atmosphere with better accuracy than ever before.
The European Space Agency hopes the juice data will help scientists understand what keeps the bands of light and dark visible in Jupiter’s atmosphere, which are known to vary in opacity and spread from the equator to the poles.
Instead of a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG), Juice will use solar panels to generate its energy. And since Jupiter’s distance from the Sun is five times that of Earth, these panels would be huge to collect a lot of light: 85 square meters and with a stunning cross-shaped design. In addition, the spacecraft will have shields to protect its instruments and electronics from the intense radiation environment that Jupiter presents.
Updated 04/13/2023 14:27 CEST: Arianespace has postponed the launch to tomorrow due to lightning risks.
Direct launch of the European Space Agency’s Juice probe
Juice is scheduled to be released on April 14th
- 08:14 a.m. Washington, DC time
- 09:14 a.m. Kuru time
- 12:14 p.m. UTC
- 02:14 pm Paris time
- 12:14 AM (April 15) Tokyo time