Next Year, We’re Sending JUICE to Jupiter in Search of Water

JUpiter ICy moons Explorer 5 photos
Photo: Airbus
JUpiter ICy moons ExploreJUpiter ICy moons ExploreJUpiter ICy moons ExploreJUpiter ICy moons Explore
Now that the celestial bodies closer to our homeworld are the object of study for both government organizations and private companies, some groups feel free to really begin exploring more distant destinations. Some that are at least 600 million km (373 million miles) away.
Jupiter and the mini planetary system it entertains have always been suitable targets for exploration. There are around 79 moons that we know of orbiting the gas giant, a bunch of which, like Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto, showing a lot of potential for having water oceans in some form or another.

Next year, the European Space Agency (ESA) will launch a mission called JUICE to prove if that’s so. The moniker stands for JUpiter ICy moons Explorer, a mission that relies on a spacecraft being developed on the European continent by Airbus and its partners.

The spacecraft is presently in its final stages of preparation. Over the past year, it was fitted with the power electronics, computer, communications systems, and sensors, and the ten scientific instruments it will need to perform its tasks all those miles away from home.

This week, JUICE started its journey from Germany, where it was put together, to the Netherlands, where it will begin a full month of vacuum chamber tests, meant to make the spacecraft feel some of the things it will experience once it gets in outer space. Then, in July, it will head for France, where the final flight configuration assembly is scheduled to take place. Later on, it will move to French Guiana from where it is expected to take off in 2022.

Once at its destination, JUICE will spend about three years studying the planet’s icy moons using cameras, spectrometers, and ice-penetrating radar. It will also perform a full tour of the Jovian moon system trying to learn more about its secrets.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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