London, March 21: In a bid to examine Jupiter’s icy moons, the European Space Agency (ESA) is all set to launch its spacecraft in 2022. The Jupiter Icy moons Explorer named ‘JUICE’ will examine the giant planet’s turbulent atmosphere, enormous magnetosphere and its set of tenuous dark rings and satellites. With the arrival in the Jovian system in 2029, JUICE will spend three-and-a-half years examining Jupiter, the European Space Agency said. Since a long time, Jupiter is believed to have water in its icy crust. The JUICE mission aims to find the proof to host life on this planet.

In a landmark history earlier this month, the preliminary design of Juice and its interfaces with the scientific instruments and the ground stations were fixed. The ESA mentioned that this new milestone allows a prototype spacecraft to be built. ESA in its statement said that the Agency is delighted to begin the development stage of this ambitious large-class mission Giuseppe Sarri, Juice project manager said, “The spacecraft design has been extensively and positively reviewed and confirmed to address the many critical mission requirements”.

About Jupiter Icy moons Explorer – JUICE

  • Jupiter Icy moons Explorer (JUICE) is an interplanetary spacecraft in development by the European Space Agency (ESA). The Jupiter exploring mission is being developed to visit the Jovian system focused on studying three of Jupiter’s Galilean moons: Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa all of which are thought to have significant bodies of liquid water beneath their surfaces, making them potentially habitable environments.
  • The spacecraft is set for launch in 2022 and would reach Jupiter in 2030.
  • By 2033, the JUICE spacecraft is believed to enter orbit around Ganymede for its close up science mission and becoming the first spacecraft to orbit a moon other than the moon of earth.
  •  The selection of this mission for the L1 launch slot of ESA’s Cosmic Vision science programme was announced on 2 May 2012.
  • In April 2012 JUICE was recommended over the proposed ATHENA X-ray telescope and a gravitational wave observatory (New Gravitational wave Observatory (NGO)). In July 2015, Airbus Defence and Space was selected as the Prime Contractor to design and build the probe.

The mission by the ESA is believed to get completed in a dedicated 8 month trip about Ganymede, which is the largest and most massive moon of Jupiter and in the Solar System. This is the first time any moon away from our own has orbited by a spacecraft. There are 67 known moons of Jupiter. This gives Jupiter the largest number of moons with reasonably stable orbits of any planet in the Solar System. Out of all Jupiter’s moons, eight are regular satellites with prograde and nearly circular orbits that are not greatly inclined with respect to Jupiter’s equatorial plane.

The other four regular satellites are much smaller and closer to Jupiter; these serve as sources of the dust that makes up Jupiter’s rings. Jupiter’s other moons are irregular satellites whose prograde and retrograde orbits are much farther from Jupiter. These moons were probably captured by Jupiter from solar orbits. Sixteen irregular satellites have been discovered since 2003 and have not yet been named.(ALSO READ: NASA’s Cassini spacecraft bids adieu to Saturn’s icy moon Mimas, captures high-resolution image)

The Jupiter Icy moons Explorer-JUICE will be equipped with 10 state-of-the-art instruments. These art instruments will include cameras, ice-penetrating radar, an altimeter, radio science experiments, and sensors to monitor the magnetic fields and charged particles in the Jovian system, PTI reported.

ESA has confirmed that 5.3-ton space vehicle will be well-suited with its Ariane 5 launcher. Reports state that Juice will operate far from the Sun for which the ESA has placed two wings of five panels which will cover 100 square meters surface area and has the ability to give 820 Watts power. The exploring spacecraft will make total 5 flybys which include three at Earth and one each for Mars and Venus.