FRANCE: The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) spacecraft is set to launch on a mission to explore Jupiter’s icy moons. These moons, including Europa and Ganymede, are believed to have vast oceans of liquid water under their icy surfaces, making them potential candidates for hosting alien life.
What will JUICE mission do?
The primary objective of the JUICE mission is to explore Jupiter’s icy moons, especially Europa and Ganymede, and study their composition, environment, and potential for life. The mission will also investigate other aspects of these moons, such as their geology, atmosphere, and magnetic fields.
The JUICE spacecraft is set to launch on Thursday, April 14, 2023, from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The mission will take eight years to complete, with the spacecraft entering Jupiter’s orbit by July 2031. From there, the spacecraft will probe Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, Jupiter’s icy moons, to determine their potential for life.
The JUICE mission will use various scientific instruments to study the moons, including cameras, spectrometers, and a laser altimeter. The spacecraft will also carry a subsurface radar instrument, which will help detect subsurface oceans and map their depths.
The new findings
The icy moons of Jupiter were long dismissed as candidates for hosting life due to their distance from the Sun. However, recent scientific research has suggested that these moons could contain vast oceans of liquid water, providing a stable environment for life.
The JUICE mission will investigate Ganymede’s “gigantic” liquid ocean, which is trapped between two thick layers of ice. The ocean’s composition and distance from the surface will be studied, and the mission will also investigate whether it contains the necessary chemical elements to support life.
The spacecraft will also study the potential for energy from tidal heating, which could warm the interior of the moons and keep their water liquid. Ganymede, in particular, has its own magnetic field, which protects it from dangerous radiation, and its hidden ocean could provide a stable environment for life.
The JUICE mission is a significant step in humanity’s search for extraterrestrial life. By investigating Jupiter’s icy moons, the mission will provide critical insights into the potential for life beyond Earth.
If the JUICE mission or NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, set to launch in 2024, finds signs of life on these moons, it could lead to a mission to land on their surface, which would be a definitive step towards confirming the existence of alien life.
Also Read: NASA’s IXPE Satellite Produces Detailed Map of Magnetic Fields in Crab Nebula