JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer ) is ESA’s new mission that will be heading to Jupiter to explore 3 of its most prominent moons; Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. Set for Launch in 2022 and arriving at Jupiter in 2029, this mission will be the first to only focus on the moons of another planet.
ESA adopted JUICE back in 2012 over the two other candidates; NGO (New Gravitational wave Observatory), to hunt for gravitational waves, and ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High-Energy Astrophysics). Some would consider the Jovian planetary system to be a mini solar system in its own right, making JUICE a compelling option for ESA. Looking at three icy moons with potential for life and with fascinated characteristics, JUICE was the best option. Additionally, NGO was going to be too technologically advanced for 2022. Furthermore, ATHENA was considered too ambitious and time constraining.
“JUICE will address two key themes of Cosmic Vision: what are the conditions for planet formation and the emergence of life, and how does the Solar System work?”
What Will JUICE Do?
JUICE hopes to discover what is hidden beneath the icy surfaces of Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.
Europa is slightly smaller than the earth’s moon which is primarily made of silicate rock and has an ice crust and most likely an iron-nickel core. It has an extremely thin atmosphere, composed mostly of oxygen. Its surface is decorated with cracks and streaks, but there aren’t many craters.
Ganymede is the largest moon, the 9th largest object and the largest object without a substantial atmosphere in our solar system. Its hypothesised interior ocean could hold more water than the earth. It is expected to have equal amounts of water and silicate rock with a liquid iron core.
Callisto has the largest orbit and is the only moon which is not tidally heated (the tidal forces from the host planet pushes and pull the moon the create friction and heat). It is also hypothesised to have an interior ocean. Callisto has equal amounts of rock and ice and has the lowest density of all the major moons in the solar system.
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