The European Space Agency (ESA) successfully launched the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) from Kourou, French Guiana at 5.44pm IST April 14, 2023. Juice is expected to reach Jupiter in 2031. It will make multiple flybys of Jupiter's satellites Ganymede, Callisto and Europa before orbiting around Ganymede. The mission will examine Europa, Ganymede and Callisto to learn more about their geology, composition and possible habitability. This stunning image of the planet's Great Red Spot and turbulence in its southern hemisphere is captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft. Source: NASA.
Scientists and astronomy enthusiasts have been fascinated by Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. Its three largest moons, dubbed the Galilean moons, are appealing possibilities in the hunt for extra-terrestrial life since it is thought that massive oceans of liquid water may be present beneath their frozen surfaces. Two years ago, youngsters from all across the world contributed artwork that was influenced by JUICE. The mission’s logo, created by 10-year-old Yaryna, was attached to the rocket carrying JUICE. Image: ESA
JUICE will install its solar arrays, antennas and other instruments over next 17 days. The equipment will then undergo three months of testing and preparation. It is scheduled to reach Jupiter in July 2031. After orbiting the gas giant for nearly three and a half years, the spacecraft will conduct flybys of Jupiter’s three moons. JUICE will only orbit Ganymede towards the end of the mission, making it the only spacecraft to ever do so in the history of the solar system. An artist’s concept of JUICE spacecraft near Jupiter is seen in the picture. Image: ESA
The mission will conduct in-depth investigations of Jupiter’s moons using a variety of scientific tools, such as cameras, spectrometers, and radar, in order to get high-resolution photos, determine the moons’ compositions, and examine the geology and surface structure. It will look at the moons’ evolution and potential for habitability by examining the elements that make up their icy outer shells. JUICE’s data collection will yield a plethora of knowledge regarding the water bodies on Jupiter’s moons, their potential habitability, and the prerequisites for life to exist outside of our planet. Juno spacecraft captured this view of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. Image: NASA
One of the mission’s primary goals is to explore the water bodies on Jupiter’s moons. The most promising location in our solar system to look for life is Ganymede, the largest moon in the system, which is known to have an underground saltwater ocean that may hold more water than all the water on Earth’s surface. On the other hand, it is thought that Callisto also has a salty ocean beneath its surface that is encased in two sheets of ice. It is believed that Europa, frequently regarded as the most intriguing of Jupiter’s moons, has a worldwide ocean beneath its frozen cover that may hold more than twice the quantity of water found on Earth. The illustration depicts JUICE on its way to Jupiter. Source: ESA.
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