Jupiter: The Juice space probe begins its journey

Journey to the moons of Jupiter

Space probe Juice goes in search of extraterrestrial life

Starting Thursday, the Juice spacecraft will embark on a journey expected to last eight years. Among other things, this should answer the question of life in space.


High-tech Swiss detector helps search for extraterrestrial life.

20 minutes

  • Is there life outside Earth?

  • The Juice space probe should clear up the answer to these and other questions from Thursday.

  • The peak is expected in 2034 when the probe will enter the largest moon in our solar system.

Is there life beyond Earth – perhaps even in our own solar system? On Thursday, the European probe Juice is scheduled to embark on a long-distance expedition to Jupiter in search of answers to these and other questions. The probe will be eight years old To the largest planet in our solar system Be on the road – and above all, take a good look at its icy moons.

Juice (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer), the European Space Agency’s flagship mission, is scheduled to launch from the European Space Agency’s Kourou spaceport in French Guiana on an Ariane 5 rocket. The probe, which weighs more than six tons and was developed by Airbus With its ten scientific tools It will first be jumped to an altitude of 1,500 km before being put into orbit, Arianespace project manager Véronique Loisel explained.

complex maneuvers

Then the probe’s complex journey begins to its destination 628 million km from Earth. Since it lacks the energy needed for a direct route to Jupiter, it has to recharge its batteries with the help of complex maneuvers.

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First, Juicy flies past the Moon and Earth again, then past Venus and twice heading towards Earth. Only then should the momentum be enough to reach Jupiter and its icy moons in 2031, which Galileo Galilei discovered 400 years ago.

Once it reaches Jupiter, Juice will swing in its orbit. From there, the probe will examine the giant planet, its moon Io – the most volcanically active celestial body in our solar system – and the three icy moons Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.

Jupiter’s moon Europa.


Searching for life in space

Things will get exciting again in 2034 when the probe will enter Ganymede’s orbit – for the first time ever. The largest moon in our solar system, which is also the only one with a magnetic field that shields it from radiation, is an ideal candidate for the search for life in space.

Like Europa, Ganymede’s icy crust hides a vast ocean of liquid water – and water is essential to life. The instruments aboard Juice will allow scientists to survey the ocean and determine its composition – to see if it could harbor life like primitive microorganisms.

Juice is the first European mission to enter the outer solar system, which starts after Mars. Its costs amount to about 1.6 billion Swiss francs. According to its own statements, the German Space Agency at the German Aerospace Center makes the largest single contribution, with a total of 21 percent.

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