The Juice

The European Space Agency prepared a robotic spaceship intended to launch from French Guyana on Thursday, April 13, 2023. Called Juice, or Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, the ship has the goal of exploring Jupiter and its icy moons: Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. It carries a variety of cameras and sensors to capture the information.

The mission was called off because of lightning just minutes before the scheduled liftoff, and is now expected to head out on Friday, April 14th.

The goal of the mission

The Juice is intended to check for habitability on the Ocean Worlds of Jupiter’s icy moons. Scientists believe that the moons are covered in water below thick sheets of ice. There could be microorganisms within the depths of these chilly seas, or it could be possible that these worlds could support life even if there is no life there now.

Juice will not be able to determine whether there currently is life on Jupiter’s moons or not, barring something big enough to be captured by the camera.

NASA has been working on robots that could do the job. Rovers like the Mars Rover, but adapted to a watery world, are one of the options, but swimming robots and a steam-powered autonomous vehicle are other possibilities.

The trip to Jupiter is expected to take eight years.  It is starting out just days after the anniversary of the first manned spaceflight, but the robotic space ship will be more practical than a ship carrying humans would be.  This is definitely one of those cases in which automation makes sense.


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