The European Space Agency has joined forces with Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, and signed a contract of euro 350M with latter to develop a spacecraft that will reach Jupiter and help in analyzing and exploring more about the giant planet and its icy moons.
Although, the spacecraft is scheduled to be ready for flight from the earth in the year 2022 i.e., 8 years later from now and will touch the orbit of Jupiter sometime during mid-2029, yet the deal has gone viral, and is claimed to be one of the most ambitious and the costliest project of ESA.
Famously known as JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer), this is the first largest mission of ESA for the discoveries of the secrets of Jupiter. The main objective of this mission would be to divulge the Jovian system, primarily focusing on three giant Galilean moons of Jupiter such as Ganymede, Europa and Callisto, which are covered by an icy crust and are as large as dwarf planets.
Europe would afford all necessary components and instruments that would come from across the continent, wherein NASA (US space agency) and JAXA (Japanese Space Agency) are going to play their significant roles. The total cost of the operation is expected to be huge, and can even cross one billion euros after summing up all the contributions, launch and operations.
The significant deal was signed in Toulouse, France, under the presence of Alvaro Gimenez (Director of Science and Robotic exploration, ESA) and Eric Beranger (Head, Space system programs at Airbus Defence and Space).
What is JUICE?
JUICE is a spacecraft that will carry the instruments like scientific payload, including cameras, ice-penetrating radar, spectrometers, a laser altimeter, magnetometer, radio science hardware, and plasma & particle detectors to the Jupiter. Further, it will be powered all over 780 million Km at the planet from the Sun. After being launched, the satellite will make use of the gravitational flybys of Earth, Mars and Venus in a series to fling out the Jovian system. The satellite will very closely investigate the icy moons of Jupiter Callisto and Europa, and get finally settled in the orbit of Ganymede.
The research will endeavor to find out the possibilities of the presence of microbial life at the moons of Jupiter as it is suspected that below the icy surface of these moons, there is a chance of the existing of oceans of water. The mission is all about looking for aliens in space.
Ganymede is known as the largest moon in the solar system. It has icy surface and generates its own magnetic field, as well. The discoveries will suggest about the possible and suitable environment for extraterrestrial life at either Jupiter or any of its moon.
The mission is also expected to explore the details of participating and cooperating countries as well as the detailed mapping of the project. It would be very interesting to see whether this costlier project is going to be successful, and the world is actually going to encounter the real aliens, or some new discoveries would unfold the new secrets of the space science.