ESAâs JUICE mission will explore Jupiterâs icy moons
The European Space Agency (ESA) will launch a mission to Jupiter and its moons on April 13, 2023, from its spaceport in French Guiana. The mission, called JUICE for JUpiter ICy moons Explorer, will perform 35 flybys of the Galilean moons Ganymede, Callisto and Europa, before going into orbit around Ganymede. ESA said its goals for JUICE are to:
… make detailed observations of the giant gas planet and its three large ocean-bearing moons – Ganymede, Callisto and Europa – with a suite of remote sensing, geophysical and in situ instruments. The mission will characterize these moons as both planetary objects and possible habitats, explore Jupiter’s complex environment in depth, and study the wider Jupiter system as an archetype for gas giants across the Universe.
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Science objectives for the JUICE mission
JUICE will arrive at Jupiter in 2031. One of the moons it will observe is Europa. JUICE’s interest in Europa involves looking for chemistry that is essential to life, such as organic molecules. It also aims to understand the formation of surface features and the composition of the non-water-ice material.
After a series of flybys of Jupiter and its three large, icy moons, JUICE will eventually settle into an orbit around Ganymede. JUICE will orbit Ganymede down to 125 miles (200 km) for about three years, ending with an impact on the moon’s surface.
While at Ganymede, JUICE has many science objectives. They include:
characterization of the ocean layers and detection of possible subsurface water reservoirs
topographical, geological and compositional mapping of the surface
study of the physical properties of the icy crusts
characterization of the internal mass distribution, dynamics and evolution of the interiors
investigation of the exosphere
study of Ganymede’s intrinsic magnetic field and its interactions with the Jovian magnetosphere
Having a better understanding of this wet, cold world will also help us understand possible distant worlds around other suns.
Having fun with the JUICE acronym
ESA had a little fun with its flavorful acronym by holding a space juice contest. Check out these beautiful mocktails, and find the recipes here.
Bottom line: The JUICE mission is an ESA program that will journey to Jupiter and its icy moons. A primary goal of its mission is learning more about the habitability of these worlds.
Read more: Icy moons’ puzzling features may be due to salty ice