It is expected to begin its mission today to assess the possibility of life on the gas giant’s moons.
The European probe JUpiter ICy Moons Explorer (Juice), of the European Space Agency (ESA), is about to leave for Jupiter. Its mission is to orbit the planet to study three of its four largest icy moons: Ganymede, Europa and Callisto, each of which would contain an ocean of liquid water beneath the ice.
Initially scheduled for April 13, the launch of the European Ariane 5 heavy rocket-carrier with the Juice mission was postponed due to a possible electrical storm, he announced Thursday in Twitter the rocket operator, Arianespace.
It is now expected to begin its mission today to verify the existence of these oceans on the gas giant’s moons.
But the tasks of this unique mission are not limited to that. In the entire solar system, Earth is the only known celestial body where life has arisen. Juice’s goal is to determine whether the conditions necessary for the emergence and maintenance of at least the simplest forms of life exist in the oceans hidden beneath the surface of these moons.
As planned, Ariane 5 will take off from the spaceport of Kouru (French Guiana). Once the scheduled orbit is reached, the rocket will deploy the Juice probe, beginning a journey of approximately eight years to reach Jupiter.
The probe, built by the Airbus company, is equipped with a wide range of remote sensing, geophysical instruments, particle detectors, a radar to scan the relief under the surface of celestial bodies and a lidar, a device used to create maps. three-dimensional relief of a surface.
NASA and the Japan Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) contributed to the manufacture of some of these instruments.
For several years, Juice will orbit Jupiter, making close flybys of its moons and sometimes coming as close as 400 km to its surface. Then, in 2034, it will go into orbit around Ganymede, and in 2035 the mission will be terminated.