Raumfahrt - Europas nächste große Jupiter Wissenschaftsmission JUICE Update-1



Exploring Jupiter


 The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, Juice, will ride into space on an Ariane launch vehicle, Arianespace and ESA confirmed today at the International Paris Air Show.

Juice is the first large-class mission in ESA's Cosmic Vision 2015–2025 programme. Its mission is devoted to complete a unique tour of the Jupiter system.

Juice will spend at least three years making detailed observations of the giant gaseous planet Jupiter and in-depth studies of three of its largest moons and potentially ocean-bearing satellites, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto.

The launch period for Juice will start in mid-2022 aboard an Ariane 5 or an Ariane 64 launch vehicle – depending on the final launch slot from from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, South America.

Juice’s Jovian odyssey

The satellite will have a mass at liftoff of approximately six tonnes and will be placed in an Earth escape orbit in a direction to Jupiter starting a journey of 600 million kilometres. After a 7.5-year cruise, which includes gravitational assists from Earth, Venus and Mars, the spacecraft will enter orbit around the giant planet in October 2029.

The Jupiter tour includes several flybys of each planet-sized world, and ends with orbit insertion around Ganymede, the largest moon in the Solar System.

Juice will carry the most powerful scientific payload ever flown to the outer Solar System. It consists of 10 state-of-the-art instruments plus one science experiment that uses the spacecraft telecommunication system with ground-based radio telescopes.

Juice's instruments will enable scientists to compare each of these icy satellites and to investigate the potential for such bodies to harbour habitable environments such as subsurface oceans. They will also carry out observations of Jupiter, its atmosphere, magnetosphere, other satellites and rings.

Airbus Defense and Space is developing and building the Juice spacecraft. As prime contractor for design, development, production, and testing of the satellite, Airbus will lead a consortium of more than 80 companies covering more than 110 contracts.

Juice launcher contract signed

“Juice is the first ‘large-class’ mission in our Cosmic Vision programme and of prime importance for investigating the habitability potential of ocean-worlds beyond our own,” said Günther Hasinger, ESA's Director of Science. “We’re delighted to confirm it will have a flying start with an Ariane launch vehicle, setting it on course to fulfil its scientific goals in the Jupiter system.”

Stéphane Israël, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace, added: “Arianespace is honored to be awarded this new scientific mission from ESA, which will advance our understanding of the Universe. Less than a year after the launch of BepiColombo to Mercury, we have won the launch contract for the Juice mission to Jupiter’s moons, further confirmation of Arianespace’s ability to ensure Europe’s independent access to space for all types of missions. We are once again marshaling all of our strengths and capabilities to support Europe’s spaceborne ventures, with a launch services offering based on Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 so we can deliver the availability and flexibility needed by ESA for its latest emblematic mission.”

Quelle: ESA


Update: 28.07.2019


JUICE starts its journey… on Earth


  • The satellite’s inner structure is ready to be shipped
  • Airbus is prime contractor for ESA’s first large mission of its Cosmic Vision programme


Airbus Defence and Space has completed the first step in the construction of the inner structure of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) JUICE satellite. This is the beginning of its Earthly journey through different Airbus sites in Europe (Lampoldshausen, Friedrichshafen and Toulouse) towards final integration.


Airbus is building the JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) spacecraft for ESA, which will investigate the potential for Jupiter’s icy moons Europa, Callisto and Ganymede to harbour habitable environments such as subsurface oceans. JUICE will also carry out observations of Jupiter, its atmosphere, magnetosphere, other satellites and rings. As prime contractor, Airbus is leading a consortium of more than 60 companies across Europe on the project.


The inner structure or SSTS (Structure, Shielding and Thermal control Subsystem), built at the Madrid-Barajas site of Airbus, is carbon fibre and is composed of the central load carrying cylinder, shear panels, two equipment protecting Vaults, the Thermal Control System which includes a heat pipes network and multilayer insulation, and secondary elements such as 13 additive manufacturing brackets. This key element weighs 580 kg and will support the satellite’s weight of 5,300 kg (of which about 3,000kg is chemical propellant). Jupiter’s distance from the Sun will make it challenging to generate energy. For this reason the spacecraft is equipped with solar arrays with a total surface of 85 m², the largest ever built for any interplanetary spacecraft.


In May 2022, JUICE will begin a 7 year cruise to Jupiter, travelling more than 600 million kilometres through space, to carry out its three and a half year mission at the Jovian system.

Quelle: Airbus


Update: 6.11.2019


Juice cast in gold


In a decade’s time, an exciting new visitor will enter the Jovian system: ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, or Juice. As its name suggests, the mission will explore Jupiter and three of its largest moons – Ganymede, Callisto and Europa – to investigate the giant planet’s cosmic family and gas giant planets in general.

Juice is planned for launch in 2022, and its instruments are currently being perfected and calibrated so they are ready to start work once in space. This image shows one of the many elements involved in this calibration process: a miniature gold-plated metallic model of Juice used to test the spacecraft’s antennas.

Juice will carry multiple antennas to detect radio waves in the Jupiter system. These antennas will measure the characteristics of the incoming waves, including the direction in which they are moving and their degree of polarisation, and then use this information to trace the waves back to their sources. In order to do this, the antennas must work well regardless of their orientation to any incoming waves – and so scientists must figure out and correct for the antennas’ so-called ‘directional dependence’.

This shiny model was used to perform a set of tests on Juice’s Radio and Plasma Wave Instrument (RPWI) last year. It was submerged in a tank filled with water; an even electric field was then applied to the tank, and the model was moved and rotated with respect to this field. The results revealed how the antennas will receive radio waves that stream in from different directions and orientations with respect to the spacecraft, and will enable the instrument to be calibrated to be as effective as possible in its measurements of Jupiter and its moons.

Similar tests, which are technically referred to as rheometry, were conducted in the past for spacecraft including the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn (which operated at Saturn between 2004 and 2017), NASA’s Juno spacecraft (currently in orbit around Jupiter), and ESA’s Solar Orbiter (scheduled for launch in early 2020 to investigate the Sun up close).

The test performed for Juice posed a few additional hurdles – the model’s antennas were especially small and needed to be fixed accurately onto the model’s boom, which required scientists to create a special device to adjust not only the antennas, but also the boom itself.

The model was produced at a 1:40 scale, making each antenna 62.5 millimetres long from tip to tip; scaled up, the antennas will be 2.5 metres long on Juice. The main spacecraft parts modelled here include the body of the probe itself, its solar panels, and its antennas and booms. The model has an overall ‘wingspan’ of 75 centimetres across its solar panels. The photo also shows a spacecraft stand, which extends out of the bottom of the frame. The gold coating ensured that the model had excellent electric conducting properties, and reacted minimally with the surrounding water and air during the measurements.

Meanwhile, the assembly of the Juice flight model has started in September, with the delivery of the spacecraft's primary structure, followed by integration of the propulsion system.

Quelle: ESA



The assembly of the flight model of ESA's JUICE spacecraft began in September, with the delivery of the spacecraft's primary structure, followed by integration of the propulsion system that will enable the mission to reach and study Jupiter and its moons.


Unpacking of JUICE primary structure in Lampoldshausen. Credit: Courtesy of Airbus and ArianeGroup

On 2 September, the main skeleton of JUICE was delivered to the Arianegroup facility in Lampoldshausen, Germany.

The primary structure of the spacecraft features a central tube – the main load bearing element – with vertical shear panels located radially around the tube, and horizontal floor panels. This will be completed later with the optical bench and external closing panels that will form the outer walls and will be added when all the internal equipment has been integrated.

The structure is part of the so-called Structure, Shielding and Thermal Subsystem (SSTS), built under the responsibility of Airbus Defence & Space in Madrid, Spain, with participation by RUAG Space Switzerland and RUAG Space Austria.

One of the features of the JUICE SSTS is that the some of the vertical panels and parts of the closing walls of the structure are lined with a thin layer of lead, which provides shielding to protect the spacecraft's electronic systems from damage by the severe radiation environment at Jupiter.

JUICE propulsion system integration. Credit: Courtesy of Airbus and ArianeGroup

Over the coming months, five companies will be working almost simultaneously on the STSS in order to ensure that JUICE can proceed to the assembly and integration phase that will take place in Airbus facilities in Friedrichshafen, Germany, so that it will be completed and ready for launch in 2022.

One of the main tasks at Lampoldshausen will be to integrate the propulsion system. This includes two identical propellant tanks that have been newly developed for EuroStar Neo, ESA's new generation of platforms for geostationary telecommunications satellites. JUICE will be the first space mission to actually utilise them.

The first titanium tank, capable of holding 1600 litres of oxidant (mixed oxides of nitrogen, or MON), was carefully lowered inside the spacecraft's central cylinder on 7 September. The second tank, which will contain monomethyl hydrazine (MMH) fuel, is scheduled for installation at the end of October.

"JUICE will need to carry more than 3000 kg of propellant in these tanks," said Daniel Escolar, ESA's Mechanical, Thermal & Propulsion System Engineer for the mission.

"Such a large load will be essential for JUICE to arrive in orbit around Jupiter and complete its scientific tour with multiple flybys of the Galilean moons, before eventually becoming the first spacecraft ever to enter orbit around Ganymede."

JUICE propulsion system piping. Credit: Courtesy of ArianeGroup

The integration of the spacecraft's propulsion system will, however, involve much more than installing two propellant tanks. Eventually, three fairly small tanks, each filled with helium pressurant, will be affixed around the exterior of the central cylinder, together with all the necessary plumbing. Some 130 metres of titanium piping will also have to be installed and welded in the STSS.

Other hardware to be added during installation of the propulsion system will include pressure regulators, valves, filters and thrusters. In addition to its single 400-newton main engine that will be used for the larger orbital manoeuvres, JUICE will carry eight 22-newton thrusters for smaller manoeuvres and as a backup system, along with twelve 10-newton thrusters for attitude control.

Meanwhile, engineers are busy carrying out other essential tasks that can only be completed whilst the external panels are not fitted, enabling easy access to the spacecraft's interior. These include placing single layer insulation around the central cylinder, adding thermocouples to measure temperatures, and attaching support fixtures for the harness that will eventually be required to carry around 10 km of electrical cable.

According to the current schedule, the JUICE flight model will be moved to Friedrichshafen around March next year for integration and testing of its electrical systems.

Meanwhile, development of the JUICE scientific payload is continuing, and the magnetometer boom for the flight model has recently been delivered to ESA's Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, for three weeks of vibration and deployment tests.


JUICE – JUpiter ICy moons Explorer – is the first large-class mission in ESA's Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 programme. It will complete a unique tour of the Jupiter system that will include in-depth studies of three potentially ocean-bearing satellites, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto.

The Jupiter tour includes several flybys of each planet-sized world, culminating with orbit insertion around Ganymede, the largest moon in the Solar System, followed by nine months of operations in its orbit.

JUICE will carry the most powerful scientific payload ever flown to the outer Solar System. It consists of 10 state-of-the-art instruments plus one experiment that uses the spacecraft telecommunication system with ground-based instruments.

JUICE's instruments will enable scientists to compare each of these icy satellites and to investigate the potential for such bodies to harbour habitable environments such as subsurface oceans. They will also carry out observations of Jupiter, its atmosphere, magnetosphere, satellites and rings.

Quelle: ESA


Update: 1.03.2020




An ultraviolet spectrograph (UVS) designed and built by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is the first scientific instrument to be delivered for integration onto the European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer (JUICE) spacecraft. Scheduled to launch in 2022 and arrive at Jupiter in 2030, JUICE will spend at least three years making detailed observations in the Jovian system before going into orbit around the solar system’s largest moon, Ganymede.

Aboard JUICE, UVS will get close-up views of the Galilean moons Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, all thought to host liquid water beneath their icy surfaces. UVS will record ultraviolet light emitted, transmitted and reflected by these bodies, revealing the composition of their surfaces and tenuous atmospheres and how they interact with Jupiter and its giant magnetosphere.

“It has been a huge team effort to get this instrument — known as JUICE-UVS — built, tested and delivered,” said Steven Persyn, project manager for JUICE-UVS and an assistant director in SwRI’s Space Science and Engineering Division. “In 2013, UVS was selected to represent NASA on the first ESA-led mission to an outer planet. Meeting both NASA’s and ESA’s specifications was challenging, but we did it.”

UVS will be one of 10 science instruments and 11 investigations for the JUICE mission. The mission has overarching goals of investigating potentially habitable worlds around the gas giant, as well as, studying the Jupiter system as an archetype for gas giants in our solar system and beyond.

SwRI has provided ultraviolet spectrographs for other spacecraft, including ESA’s Rosetta comet orbiter, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Juno spacecraft now orbiting Jupiter. Another UVS is under construction for NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, scheduled to launch not long after JUICE.

“JUICE-UVS is the fifth in this series of SwRI-built ultraviolet spectrographs, and it benefits greatly from the design experience gained by our team from the Juno-UVS instrument, which is currently operating in Jupiter’s harsh radiation environment,” Persyn said. “Each successive instrument we build is more capable than its predecessor.”

JUICE is the first large-class mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015–2025 program. The spacecraft and science instruments are being built by teams from 15 European countries, Japan and the United States. SwRI’s UVS instrument team includes additional scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder, the SETI institute, the University of Leicester (UK), Imperial College London (UK), the University of Liège (Belgium), and the Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (France). The Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center oversees the UVS contribution to ESA through the agency’s Solar System Exploration Program. The JUICE spacecraft is being developed by Airbus Defence and Space.  

Quelle: Southwest Research Institute


Update: 9.04.2020


Here's how Europe's JUICE spacecraft will look for alien oceans


One of the top priorities for scientists looking to find life beyond Earth is determining which icy worlds in the outer solar system hide massive global oceans under their frozen surfaces.

And a European Space Agency (ESA) mission scheduled to launch in 2022 will work to do just that. Called the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE), the spacecraft will tour the Jupiter system, specifically observing three of the planet's largest moons: Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. Scientists aren't yet sure, but they suspect that all three might be hiding massive oceans.

"We have good reasons to believe that they host an internal subsurface ocean underneath the icy crust," Olivier Witasse, a planetary scientist at ESA on the JUICE project, said during a presentation coordinated by the National Academies of Sciences on March 31. The JUICE mission is designed to provide the data scientists need to determine whether those oceans exist.

The JUICE team aims to address that question using a few different methods.

One of the spacecraft's techniques is straightforward but only applies to one of Jupiter's moons. Scientists suspect, but haven't confirmed, that Europa may be shooting plumes out through its icy crust. If that is the case, JUICE may be able to fly through those plumes and study the liquid they contain during its two passes over the world. "We need to be lucky," Witasse said. "The plumes need to be there, it's still a matter of debate."


JUICE's other tactics are less subject to luck and are not limited to Europa, he said. Witasse walked through how the spacecraft's tactics will play out at Ganymede, the only moon that JUICE will directly orbit, as an example of the mission's methods.


First, there's a long-standing approach, which relies on measuring the magnetic field around a moon. If a bunch of liquid that conducts electricity is sloshing around inside a world, it interferes with the magnetic field of both the moon itself and Jupiter's in a way that should allow JUICE to measure it. However, with this method, JUICE will need to take measurements throughout its entire stay in the Jupiter system to produce enough data. A previous NASA mission, Galileo, which explored the Jupiter system between 1995 and 2003, carried a similar instrument.


JUICE will also measure how each of Jupiter's moons is stretched by tidal interactions with other worlds in the system. Jupiter is so massive that it tugs on all four of its large moons, and three of those moons orbit in such synchronized choreography that they exert serious pulls on each other.


And just as Earth's dance with the moon creates tides, all of this tugging around should distort Jupiter's moons. That should remain true whether or not these moons have oceans, but the magnitude of these tides would be different if they are ocean worlds or not — to the tune of tides just 3 feet (1 meter) high for an ocean-free moon compared to perhaps between 26 feet (8 m) and 33 feet (10 m) for an ocean world, Witasse said.


"That's a powerful technique to measure what is inside the icy moons," he said — although it will require the spacecraft to approach the moon quite closely and to map the full surface multiple times. These requirements mean that the Ganymede measurements will likely not be taken until the last phase of the mission, three months during which JUICE is in its lowest orbit around the moon.


JUICE's last technique for searching for alien oceans is perhaps also its strangest. This method relies on measurements of the auroras that ring, for example, Ganymede's poles. These dazzling lights don't circle the moon's poles totally symmetrically, instead, they are tilted like the brim of a hat perched askew, spinning around the moon.


According to scientists' models, the degree to which that ring wobbles will vary based on the moon's internal structure, influenced by the same magnetic field changes that the first technique will target. The band will wobble about three times more if no ocean is hidden below the moon's icy shell. And that technique should require fewer measurements than some of JUICE's other options.


None of these methods will quickly resolve scientists' questions about these distant worlds, of course, since deep-space exploration takes time. JUICE is currently scheduled to launch in 2022, then will take more than seven years to reach the Jupiter system. If the spacecraft launches on time, it will conduct the bulk of its observations between 2029 and 2033.

Quelle: SC


Update: 26.04.2020


Jupiter probe JUICE: Final integration in full swing


Completion of ESA´s JUpiter ICy moons Explorer spacecraft has begun at Airbus satellite centre Friedrichshafen

Friedrichshafen, 23 April 2020 – JUICE, the JUpiter ICy moons Explorer mission, has reached its next milestone: On its Earthly journey via different Airbus sites in Europe the spacecraft has arrived at Airbus’ satellite integration centre in Friedrichshafen (Germany) for final integration. Until the end of 2020 it will be kitted out with its final components including harness, power electronics, onboard computer, communication systems, navigation sensors, thermal hardware and its scientific instruments. Next stop: Noordwijk, The Netherlands, the home of the European Space Agency´s space test centre ESTEC, where the probe has to undergo its thermal vaccum environmental test campaign to prove it is ready for its journey via Venus and Mars to Jupiter and its mission in the Jovian system.

The 5.2 tonne JUICE spacecraft will set off in May 2022 on its near 600 million-kilometre-long journey to Jupiter with a planned arrival date of October 2029. The spacecraft will carry 10 state-of-the-art scientific instruments, including cameras, spectrometers, an ice-penetrating radar, an altimeter, radio-science experiment, and sensors to monitor the magnetic fields and charged particles in the Jovian system. JUICE will complete a unique tour of the Jupiter system that will include in-depth studies of three potentially ocean-bearing moons, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto.

Over the last few months the JUICE structure, built and assembled by Airbus in Madrid, has been completed with its chemical propulsion system at ArianeGroup’s site in Lampoldshausen (Germany) to form the spacecraft body. ArianeGroup’s Orbital Propulsion teams have developed, produced and integrated the propulsion system, which includes two titanium propellant tanks and the 400-newton main engine that will be used for Jupiter orbit insertion, and a further 20 small thrusters.

During a night ride a special transporter carried the heavy and oversized load safely to the integration centre in Friedrichshafen. Airbus has now set up a special two shift working pattern for up to 60 engineers to ensure on time delivery - even in Corona influenced times.

In parallel the full size engineering model of JUICE has been integrated and is at Airbus’ satellite integration centre in Toulouse for full functional software testing, prior to installation on the flight model in Friedrichshafen.

JUICE will spend more than three years in the Jupiter system, collecting data to provide answers on the conditions for planet formation and the emergence of life. It will spend nine months orbiting the icy moon Ganymede analysing its nature and evolution, and its potential habitability.

As prime contractor, Airbus is leading an industrial consortium of more than 80 companies across Europe.

Quelle: AIRBUS


Jupiter explorer Juice arrives for final integration


ESA’s upcoming JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE) spacecraft arrives at the satellite integration centre of the project’s prime contractor Airbus in Friedrichshafen, Germany, in April 2020, to undergo final integration.

Quelle: ESA


Update: 23.08.2020


Swedish space technology ready to explore oceans under the ice on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede


Now the first of two Swedish-led Jupiter instruments has left the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) to take its place on the European spacecraft JUICE. The Radio & Plasma Wave Investigation instrument (RPWI) will measure electric and magnetic fields to identify and map the oceans beneath the frozen ice cover of the moon Ganymede.

In 2013, IRF was selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to participate in one of their largest projects in planetary exploration. Since then, Sweden and IRF have been responsible for two of then instruments on board JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer). In 2022, the spacecraft will be sent to Jupiter and the Galilean moons Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, three moons with oceans beneath their thick ice sheets.

Scientist Jan-Erik Wahlund at IRF’s office in Uppsala is responsible for Radio & Plasma Wave Investigation (RPWI), an instrument package with several sensors for measuring electric and magnetic fields and electrically charged particles.

“The instrument is designed to investigate, in particular, how Jupiter’s magnetosphere interacts with the atmospheres of the icy moons. We primarily hope to identify and map how Ganymede’s ocean flows under the ice sheet and what processes keep it going. With RPWI, we will not be able to detect any life in the oceans, but where there is liquid water, there are opportunities for life,” says Jan-Erik Wahlund.

RPWI will contribute to the mapping of Jupiter’s and Ganymede’s entire magnetospheres. The scientists hope to get more information about how the moons work in detail, but also to study, for example, radio radiation emitted from Jupiter’s surroundings.

In addition, JUICE will be the first spacecraft ever to orbit around the giant planet’s largest moon, Ganymede. The scientists know that the moon’s own magnetic field generates strong electric fields that give rise to, among other things, aurora particles.

IRF researcher Jan Bergman is pleased to be a part of space science and space technology which will place Sweden, with instrumental and scientific contributions from many other countries, in another part of the solar system.

“Amazing people of all nationalities have contributed. Everyone at RPWI is very proud of this melting pot of international professionalism”, says Jan Bergman.

RPWI has instrument contributions from nine institutions in five countries (Sweden, France, Czech Republic, Poland and Japan), and controbutions from severals companies (eg RUAG, SSC, ÅAC Microtec, Meisei, Astronika and PZL) plus scientific support from 20 institutions in eight countries (those above and Germany, Austria and the UK). ESA itself also supports several significant contributions. The spacecraft is made by Airbus.

JUICE will be launched on an Ariane-5 rocket from French Guiana in 2022. The journey will take eight years.

Quelle: Swedish Institute of Space Physics 


Update: 8.05.2021


Juice arrives at ESA’s technical heart


The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, Juice, has come ‘home’ to ESA’s technical centre in the Netherlands to undergo an extreme environment test in Europe’s largest thermal vacuum chamber to prepare for its journey to the outer Solar System.

The spacecraft arrived at ESTEC, ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre, from Airbus Friedrichshafen in Germany last week. It is now being unpacked and prepared to enter the Large Space Simulator’ later this month. It will spend several weeks being subjected to extreme heating and cooling cycles under vacuum, to confirm the spacecraft is ready for its long journey through the Solar System to Jupiter.

  • Juice in transport container
    Juice in transport container
  • Juice leaving transport container
    Juice leaving transport container
  • Juice moving clean rooms
    Juice moving clean rooms
  • Juice moving clean rooms
    Juice moving clean rooms
  • Juice moving clean rooms
    Juice moving clean rooms
  • Installing Juice at ESTEC
    Installing Juice at ESTEC
  • Installing Juice at ESTEC
    Installing Juice at ESTEC
  • Installing Juice at ESTEC
    Installing Juice at ESTEC
  • Installing Juice at ESTEC
    Installing Juice at ESTEC

Juice will remain at ESTEC until July, before being transported to Toulouse for its final round of tests. From there it will travel to Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, to be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket next year.

Once in the Jovian system the mission will make detailed observations of the giant gas planet and its three large ocean-bearing moons – Ganymede, Callisto and Europa – with a suite of remote sensing, geophysical and in situ instruments. The mission will investigate the emergence of habitable worlds around gas giants and the Jupiter system as an archetype for the numerous giant exoplanets, now known to orbit other stars.

Quelle: ESA


Update: 15.05.2021


Europe’s Jupiter spacecraft enters crucial testing phase

Critical sequence of tests begins in space simulator to prepare Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer for its journey to the great gas giant



The European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) is now undergoing crucial tests in the Large Space Simulator prior to launch next year. Photograph: ESA-SJM Photography
The European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) has begun a critical sequence of tests to make sure it can function correctly in the hostile conditions of outer space.

Having been assembled by Airbus Friedrichshafen, Germany, the 6.2 tonne spacecraft has now arrived at Esa’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands, where it is being prepared to enter the Large Space Simulator. Once inside, the air will be pumped from the chamber to replicate the vacuum of space. Then it will be heated and cooled to precisely mimic its varying distance from the Sun as it journeys through the solar system to arrive at the gas giant planet Jupiter, five times further from the Sun than the Earth.


The tests are scheduled to take 31 days to complete. After this, Juice will be shipped to Toulouse for a final round of tests before being transported to Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana for launch. Lift off will take place next year on an Ariane 5 rocket.

Upon arrival at Jupiter in 2029, Juice will begin an extensive investigation of the planet and its oceanic moons: Europa, Ganymede and Callisto to investigate the conditions necessary for habitability.

Quelle: The Guardian


Update: 22.01.2023


Europe's mission to Jupiter's icy moons ready for launch


Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer: The mission has been nearly two decades in the planning

Europe is about to undertake one of its grandest ever space missions, to explore the icy moons of Jupiter.

The Juice satellite is going through final testing in Toulouse, France, after which it will be shipped to the launch site in South America.

It's due to depart Earth in April.

The six-tonne spacecraft will make a series of flybys of Callisto, Ganymede and Europa, using an advanced package of instruments to investigate whether any of these worlds are habitable.

This might sound fanciful. The Jovian system is in the cold, outer reaches of the Solar System, far from the Sun and receiving just one twenty-fifth of the light falling on Earth.

But the gravitational squeezing and pushing the giant planet gives its moons means they have the energy and warmth to retain vast quantities of liquid water at depth. And we know on Earth that wherever there is water, there's an opening for life.

"In the case of Europa, it's thought there's a deep ocean, maybe 100km deep, underneath its ice crust," said mission scientist Prof Emma Bunce from Leicester University, UK.

"That depth of ocean is 10 times that of the deepest ocean on Earth, and the ocean is in contact, we think, with a rocky floor. So that provides a scenario where there is mixing and some interesting chemistry," the researcher told BBC News.

It's a 6.6 billion km journey lasting 8.5 years.

Mark the calendar for July 2031. That's when Juice arrives at Jupiter. It will then conduct 35 flybys of the three moons before settling permanently around Ganymede in late 2034.

The European Space Agency (Esa) project team behind Juice held a major review this week and concluded the mission was "go for launch".

Aerospace company Airbus has spearheaded the construction of the €1.6bn (£1.4bn; $1.7bn) JUpiter ICy moons Explorer. 

The manufacturer has pulled in expertise and components from all across the continent.

Everything is now fully assembled, including Juice's suite of 10 scientific instruments.

"We have a number of high-resolution cameras on this probe in all possible wavelengths - in infrared, the visible and ultraviolet," explained engineer Cyril Cavel, as he pointed out a collection of boxes hanging off one side of the silver and black satellite.

"You can see all these instruments underneath protective, transparent covers. The high-resolution visible telescope, which is called Janus, will take fantastic pictures very close to the moons because we will do flybys at just 400km altitude. They will be stunning shots," the Airbus Juice project manager said.


A map of Ganymede's icy surface. The crust caps a hidden ocean

Radar will also peer inside the moons; lidar - a laser measurement system - will make 3D maps of their surfaces; magnetometers will trace their complex electrical and magnetic environments; and sensors will sample the particles that whiz around them.

Juice won't be searching for specific "biomarkers"; it won't be trying to detect alien fish in the deep oceans. Its job is to learn more about the possibilities for habitability that future missions could then investigate in more detail. Scientists have long pondered the idea of putting landers on one of Jupiter's icy moons to drill through its crust to the water below.


That could happen one day, perhaps; in the latter half of this century.

You need patience to work in the outer Solar System. The orbits of Earth and Jupiter may be "only" 600 million km apart, but you can't easily go direct, not without a stupendous rocket. And even though Europe's Ariane 5 is powerful, it doesn't have that kind of heft.

Instead, it will send Juice on a rather circuitous route that will use the gravity of Venus and Earth to slingshot the probe out to the gas giant.


The American Clipper mission should launch in 2024 and focus on Europa

Juice is built a little like an air-conditioned tank.

Unprotected, its electronics would rapidly degrade in the harsh radiation that swirls around Jupiter. And that long journey inwards towards Venus and then out to the gas giant will see temperatures on the exterior of the satellite swing from 250C to minus-230C.

"We have two big vaults inside the spacecraft to protect the computers from radiation and to maintain them through a network of pipes at the same level of temperature," said thermal architect Séverine Deschamps.

"The same is true for the propulsion system. Its operation has to be maintained around the 20C, quite warm, to get a good level of performance when firing."


The business side of Juice. Most of its instruments are on one panel

Juice won't be alone in its work.

The US space agency Nasa is sending its own satellite called Clipper.

Although it will leave Earth after Juice, it should actually arrive just before its European sibling. It will focus on Europa.

Together, the two satellites will make a powerful team.

"You get a much deeper understanding having the two there together, and it removes some of the guesswork as to what's going on," said Prof Michelle Dougherty, the principal investigator on Juice's magnetometer instrument.

"It will be interesting, for example, when Clipper is going past Europa if there is a plume coming from the moon. Clipper will be making the close-in measurements, but Juice will be watching at a distance to see what impact that has on the environment around Europa and whether we get bigger spots in the auroral lights on Jupiter."


Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei identified Jupiter's four major moons in 1610. Only Io (top) will not be visited by Juice

Quelle: BBC


Update: 23.01.2023


Airbus finalises JUICE ready for its mission to Jupiter


Satellite ready to leave Europe before its launch in April

Galileo tribute plaque unveiled in Airbus’ cleanroom and mounted on the spacecraft

ESA’s mission will study Jupiter’s three largest icy moons and the Jovian system’s magnetic fields

The Airbus-built JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer mission) spacecraft will shortly leave Toulouse, France, for Kourou, French Guiana, for lift-off on an Ariane 5 in April 2023. Shipment is expected in early February.

The spacecraft has been at Airbus in Toulouse since August 2021 for final assembly and test. This included integration of the final instrument units and the largest solar arrays ever to fly on a planetary exploration mission, needed to power the mission at 740 million kilometres from the Sun.

“With JUICE's departure for the launch site fast approaching, we look back at its long Earthly journey through various Airbus sites in Europe towards final integration and involving close to 500 Airbus employees who prepared the spacecraft for its eight-year cruise,” said Cyril Cavel, JUICE Project Manager at Airbus Defence and Space.

“It has been an incredible adventure, along with more than 80 companies across Europe, to bring ESA’s vision to life and ultimately study Jupiter and its icy moons in fine detail.”

Today a commemorative plaque was unveiled during a press event in Toulouse as a tribute to Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei. The plaque has been mounted on the spacecraft to honour Galileo who was the first to view Jupiter and its largest moons through a telescope in 1610.

On its more than 2 billion-kilometre long journey, the 6.2 ton JUICE spacecraft will collect data on the icy moons to try to understand whether there is any possibility that these moons could host microbial life. Carrying 10 state-of-the-art scientific instruments, including cameras, spectrometers, an ice-penetrating radar, an altimeter, a radio-science experiment, and sensors, the JUICE spacecraft will complete a unique tour of the Jupiter system that will include in-depth studies of three potentially ocean-bearing moons: Ganymede, Europa and Callisto.

During its four year-long mission, JUICE will spend nine months orbiting the icy moon Ganymede analysing its nature and evolution, characterising its subsurface ocean, and investigating its potential habitability.

After being selected by ESA as prime contractor in 2015 Airbus has led a pan European industrial consortium to design and build this unique spacecraft.

Quelle: AIRBUS

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