On April 13th, the European Space Agency (ESA) will launch its Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) mission from French Guiana. The purpose of the mission is to conduct a detailed study of Jupiter as well as three of its moons (and their oceans) – Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. The spacecraft will eventually go into orbit around Ganymede, which will be the first orbit of a moon in our solar system other than Earth’s Moon.
The key milestones for the mission are listed below and shown in greater detail within the graphic as well:
–February 2023: Juice arrives in French Guiana
–April 13, 2023: Launch on Ariane-5 rocket
–July 2031: Arrival at Jupiter
-July 2031 – November 2034: 35 icy moon flybys
–December 2034: Arrival at Ganymede
In addition to ESA/European scientific instruments and equipment, the spacecraft will also carry items from NASA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the Israel Space Agency.
The delayed arrival at Jupiter relates to the need for multiple flybys cover this great distance. In The Financial Times, Justin Byrne, head of science for lead contractor Airbus, stated, “Ariane-5 is a very powerful rocket but it can only give us about half the energy we need to get to Jupiter…We get the rest by doing planetary fly-bys, each one giving us a gravitational assist through a slingshot manoeuvre.”
The ESA put together a useful Launch Kit that answers any question you may have about the Juice mission, as well as related missions.