Science | Exploration | Solar System | Jovian Planet | Moon

Image Source: European Space Agency (ESA)
Image Source: European Space Agency (ESA)

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JUICE: Exploring Jupiter and its enigmatic moons

By the_farsight |

In recent interplanetary missions, India’s space missions are on the news. 

First, India’s recent triumph in landing a probe near the lunar south pole. 

Now, the nation launched another groundbreaking space mission to study the Sun — Aditya-L1. The Sun mission will observe and study the Sun’s corona (outermost layer), photosphere (surface), and chromosphere (a thin layer of plasma between the photosphere and the corona) to understand solar activity, such as solar wind and flares, and their impact on Earth and space weather.

But in the vast, uncharted realms of the cosmic neighbourhood, there’s another interplanetary mission that has its sights on the largest planet in the solar system — Jupiter and its enigmatic moons — Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa.

On 14 April 2023, European Space Agency (ESA) launched the mission — Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) which is the first large-class mission in the ESA Cosmic Visions 2015-2025 programme.

According to ESA, “The mission will characterise 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.”

JUICE will cruise to Jupiter for approximately eight years, making flybys of Venus, Earth, and the Earth-Moon system along the way, and is expected to reach Jupiter by July 2031.

The mission will spend at least three years collecting data at Jupiter and will observe three of the planet’s moons — Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa, which are thought to have oceans of liquid water beneath their icy crusts, as well as explore Jupiter’s complex environment, characterising Jupiter’s atmosphere, magnetic environment, ring system, and other satellites.

The spacecraft will then spend months orbiting Jupiter, doing flybys of Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, and finally performing an orbital tour of Ganymede.

JUICE carries 10 state-of-the-art instruments ever flown to the outer Solar System, under remote sensing, geophysical, and in situ package of instruments.

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