From its familiar stripes to its giant red spot Jupiter has mesmerized scientists for hundreds of years. It is the most important planet in our solar system and its icy moons could Harbor key ingredients for life. An understanding they could help us answer some of the biggest questions about our solar system like how exactly did life form.
That is precisely what the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Juice mission hopes to find out. European Space Agency says the satellites of Jupiter are very interesting because there is probably more liquid water inside some of the satellites than on earth. So it became a fascinating question whether around a planet like Jupiter we might have places which are maybe interesting for life.
Jupiter icy moons Explorer or juice is European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) mission to study if the icy moons around Jupiter areas habitable as scientists think about it. The one orbital spacecraft will orbit Callisto and Europa however will make historical past as it orbits Ganymede for the first time ever. Thanks to measurements collected by NASA’s Galileo probe we now have a better idea of what may lie beneath the icy crust of these moons.
The presence of salty water and Europa is believed to have the most with an ocean containing more liquid than all of Earth’s oceans combined. Then we come to the apple of Juice’s eye Ganymede it’s the primary focus for this mission since it’s Jupiter’s largest moon and has its own magnetic field. Last but not least is Callisto because of its ancient and heavily cratered surface Callisto was long believed to be geologically inactive.
But that might not be true this moon may also hold an underwater ocean. It’s not every day that we send a spacecraft to Jupiter so Juice will be equipped with 10 instruments all working together to try and capture as much as possible. The form will be remote sensing instruments capable of capturing ultraviolet to the submillimetre wavelengths to better study Jupiter’s clouds, atmosphere and its satellites icy surfaces.
The next batch is the geophysical instruments that will study the surface and subsurface of the moons. As well as explore the atmosphere and measured the gravitational field. Finally, we have the in situ instruments composed of sensors to study the particle environment, electric and magnetic fields. But figuring out how to power the instruments and the spacecraft was a challenge.
Since Jupiter is roughly seven hundred and seventy-seven million kilometers away from the Sun. This makes it much harder to use solar power so to capture as much sunlight as possible juice will use massive solar arrays about 85 square meters in size.
Despite being the largest solar panels ever placed on a spacecraft they’ll provide less than 1,000 watts of power which is less powerful than a home vacuum cleaner. In total, the instruments in solar arrays will account for less than half the spacecraft’s 5 metric tons size.
While the rest is a chemical propellant to help steer the spacecraft for its orbital insertions. So what can we expect when it actually launches right now juice is slated to liftoff in 2022 aboard an Ariane 5 rocket but the launch will only be the first step.
Seven and a half years after its initial launch juice will finally arrive at Jupiter. After collecting tons of images and details of the largest moon it this point that juice will make a planned crash on the Ganymede surface. Hopefully leaving us with a greater understanding of our solar system’s largest planet and its mysterious moons. And we’re juiced for the outcomes.