Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer Mission (JUICE)

Context: The JUpiter ICy Moons Explorer (Juice) mission is scheduled to lift off on Europe’s most powerful rocket – the Ariane-5.

Juice Mission:

  • Juice is on an eight-year-long voyage to make detailed observations on Jupiter and three of its ocean-bearing moons — Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. 
  • The objective is to explore the moons in search of signs of life and to explore if it is possible to live around giants or for habitability. 
  • During its voyage, the spacecraft will complete fly-bys of Venus, Earth, and the Earth-Moon system to arrive at its destination in 2031.
  • The mission has instruments including a remote sensing package with spectral imaging capabilities, a laser altimeter (GALA), a radar sounder (RIME) for exploring the moon’s surface and subsurface, instruments to study the particle environment (PEP), a magnetometer (J-MAG), and a radio and plasma wave instrument (RPWI).
  • JUICE Mission will orbit Ganymede and end its life there. 
  • Operations of JUICE Mission will overlap with NASA’s Europa Clipper Mission.

About Jupiter:

  • Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System.
  • It is a gas giant primarily composed of hydrogen, followed by helium. 
  • It is the third brightest natural object in the Earth’s night sky after the Moon and Venus. 
  • Jupiter is surrounded by a faint planetary ring system and has a powerful magnetosphere. The Great Red Spot is a gigantic storm (anticyclone) that is about twice as wide as Earth, circling the planet in its southern hemisphere.
  • Jupiter has the highest number of moons in our Solar System (95 known moons till date) including Ganymede which is the largest (larger than the planet Mercury).

About Ganymede

  • Largest moon in our solar system. It is even bigger than planet Mercury.
  • There is strong evidence that Ganymede has underground saltwater ocean that may hold more water than all the water on Earth’s surface.
  • It is the only moon known have its own magnetic field – typically only found on planets like Earth. 
  • Ganymede has a faint oxygen atmosphere; however, it is far too thin to breathe.

About Callisto

  • Jupiter’s second largest moon and third largest moon in our solar system.
  • Surface of Callisto is heavily cratered created of ice and rock.
  • Scientists believe that Callisto may have an underground salty ocean making it a potential habitat for life. 

About Europa

  • Europa is slightly smaller than Earth’s moon and barely one-quarter the diameter of Earth itself. 
  • Surface of Europa is composed of solid water ice and it has extremely thin oxygen atmosphere. 
  • Europa is believed to be most promising place in our solar system to have environment suitable for life.
  • Beneath the icy surface of Europa is a salty-water ocean thought to contain twice as much water as Earth’s oceans combined. 

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