March 28, 2023

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Humanity is going to Jupiter, juice mission. The first of its kind in history

Jupiter, the gas giant planet in our solar system, has been studied by NASA probes for many years. So it seems we know him and his satellites just fine. However, the European juice probe will do something that has not been attempted before.

When on a clear evening, strolling around the court, you see an exceptionally bright blob over the southwestern horizon, then you know it is Jupiter, the largest of the planets in the solar system. Owner of a small planetary system consisting of 80 moons. The most important of them, the four that Galileo saw in 1609, are already visible through small telescopes as four points around Jupiter.

Simulation of Jupiter and its Galilean moons as seen through binoculars
Image source: © Stellarium

Simulation of Jupiter and its Galilean moons as seen through binoculars

These satellites will be launched in April 2023 by the European JUICE probe, the JUpiter ICy Satellite Explorer. in the labs Airbus His tests were completed, a plaque commemorating Galileo’s discoveries was affixed, and the probe was packed for its last earthly journey.

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Image source: © ESA | MANUEL PEDOUSSAUT

Close-up of the badge
Image source: © ESA | Manuel Pedosot

Close-up of the badge

Before heading into space, the JUICE spacecraft heads into the jungle

In February, a shipment of JUICE will arrive in French Guiana. There is Kourou, one of the best spaceports in the world. From here it started in December 2021 Webb Telescope. Like this telescope, JUICE will be launched into a larger orbit in Europe Ariane 5 missile. This will be the last flight of such a missile. Ariane 6 will replace it in the future.

European mission but help from the whole world

The European Space Agency (ESA) leads the JUICE mission, but that doesn’t mean every screw is made in the EU. The US NASA, Japan’s JAXA and Israel’s ISA provided some electronic devices and an important tool for ultraviolet observation. The spacecraft is equipped with 10 science instruments, as well as a radiation sensor and an experimental PRIDE instrument to measure the spacecraft’s position.

Goodbye juice probe
Image source: © ESA | Airbus

Goodbye juice probe

It will allow, with the help of radio telescopes on Earth, to determine the position of the probe with an accuracy of tens of meters. Based on this data, astronomers will estimate the position of the moons the spacecraft will pass by with the greatest accuracy in history.

We will also be interested in the results of the JANUS camera. It will provide the most detailed images ever of Jupiter’s moons. The cost of the entire mission is around 1.6 billion euros. This is approximately 7.5 billion Polish zlotys, which is more or less the cost of many national stadiums.

JUICE is flying because we still don’t know if these subglacial oceans are out there

Previous missions to Jupiter have led us to believe that beneath the icy shells of its moons Europa, Callisto and Ganymede, there may be oceans full of water. However, faith is not certainty. JUICE’s modern instruments will help answer once and for all the question of whether such oceans are really out there and how big they can be.

This is how we currently imagine the interior of Jupiter’s Galilean moons. Shades of blue are water.

JUICE will also, in a sense, write another textbook on the history of the Jupiter system. Astronomers will learn many things, including what will happen to the Great Red Spot in the future, how the Galilean and Jupiter moons coexist, and even where their rings come from.

Juicy Mission Objectives
Image credit: © ESA

Juicy Mission Objectives

It will be hot and cold. too frosty

Jupiter is very far from Earth. A direct trip to Jupiter is not possible because the planets do not stand still. In addition, this flight requires a huge amount of fuel, because the shortest distance from Earth to Jupiter is 588 million km, which is more than 1,500 times the distance from Earth to the Moon.

Fortunately, space missions are a money-saving art, and astronomers are patient people by nature. So, in the case of JUICE, a trajectory was planned, which, with the help of the forces of nature, would allow the probe to accelerate and cover the trajectory.

JUICE spacecraft flight plan
Image credit: © ESA

JUICE spacecraft flight plan

What is called would be useful Gravity helpsThis eliminates the need to carry large quantities of fuel on board the sensors. The probe, having passed several times close to Earth and Venus, will circle them and gain additional speed. At the beginning of 2029, it will be large enough for a probe to fly toward Jupiter, which it will reach in July 2031. JUICE will spend more than four years studying Jupiter and its moons.

During the flight, the temperatures at which the sun will heat the surface of the spacecraft will vary from 250°C when the JUICE is near Venus, to as high as -230°C when the JUICE reaches its destination.

The JUICE probe has been tested on Earth in a chamber that simulates conditions in space
Image credit: © ESA

The JUICE probe has been tested on Earth in a chamber that simulates conditions in space

And because the interior of the probe, which contains not only the electronics, but also the optics and many mechanical elements, cannot get excessively hot or cool, JUICE has been encased in a multi-layered thermal blanket. This insulation is the black and gold coating that can be seen in some of the probe’s photos. At the time of transportation to the launch site, the probe was also wrapped in protective foil.

Photovoltaic cells win in space?

JUICE is a very environmental probe and its energy will be drawn entirely from solar radiation. The probe is equipped with very large photovoltaic panels with an area of ​​85 square meters.

Visualization of the unfolded JUICE probe
Image credit: © ESA

Visualization of the unfolded JUICE probe

It must be very large, because at the distance of Jupiter the radiation of the Sun is 25 times weaker than near the Earth. The size of the panels will generate about 900 watts of power near Jupiter. Maybe it’s less than your electric kettle, but the juice is enough.

JUICE solar panels
Image source: © ESA | JB Akaris – Major Movies

JUICE solar panels

Not only are the photovoltaic panels large, but they are also the main transmission antenna. Its size is 2.4 meters, so the speed of communication with the Earth will be comparable to the speed of a telephone Internet modem from the turn of the century.

THESE THINGS JUICE WILL DO FIRST IN HISTORY

Jupiter in front of JUICE has been studied for 8 years by the Galileo probe (1995-2003), and since 2016 it has been observed closely Juno probe. Other probes have also visited this planet on their travels, because Jupiter is the obligatory intermediate destination for almost every flight.

Many of these missions previously used the gravity of Venus and Earth to gain speed. JUICE will also be the first probe in history to use lunar assistance. This will take place in August 2024.

The JUICE spacecraft in front of Saturn's moon
Image credit: © ESA

The JUICE spacecraft in front of Saturn’s moon

JUICE in orbit of Jupiter will be the first to scan the surfaces of moons Europa, Callisto and Ganymede so precisely with radar that it can assess whether and how large oceans lie beneath the icy crust.

Juice probe in the background of Callisto
Image source: © Licensor

Juice probe in the background of Callisto

And when it tires of constantly flying by these moons, which it will do 35 times in four years, the spacecraft will once again approach Jupiter itself to use its gravity to slow down and enter Ganymede’s orbit in late 2034.

So far, terrestrial vehicles have only managed to orbit Earth’s moon. JUICE will do this for Jupiter’s moon. It will orbit Ganymede at a distance of 500 km, or maybe twice that distance. Then it will probably collapse onto its surface.

Why is JUICE’s final destination Ganymede and not Europa or Callisto?

Europa is very close to Jupiter, and the radiation there would be deadly for a longer orbiting probe. Callisto is the oldest moon, which makes it less interesting than Gamindis.

This is how you see Ganymede through the Hubble telescope
Image credit: © ESA

This is how you see Ganymede through the Hubble telescope

These are the best images of Ganymede taken by NASA's Juno spacecraft
Image source: © Licensor

These are the best images of Ganymede taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft

This, in turn, is the largest moon in the solar system with a very diverse surface. Its diameter is 5268 km, which is greater than the size of the planet Mercury. not everything. Ganymede has its own magnetic field, just like Earth. Its source may be a huge salty ocean under the ice crust. JUICE will test if Ganymede is habitable, either today or in the past. And searching for traces of this is at the heart of every space mission.

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