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JUICE's final take-off before lift-off
JUICE left Airbus cleanroom in Toulouse in its transport container before boarding an An-124 aircraft for its last flight on Earth.
JUICE's final take-off before lift-off
by Staff Writers
Toulouse, France (SPX) Feb 10, 2023

The Airbus-built JUICE spacecraft is set to embark on a pioneering mission to explore the Jupiter system and study its magnetic fields. The decade-long mission, managed by the European Space Agency (ESA), will search for signs of life-bearing conditions on the Jovian moons, Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto.

These moons have long been of interest to scientists and researchers due to their potential to host microbial life. Ganymede, the largest moon of Jupiter and the solar system, is believed to have a subsurface ocean that could contain more water than all of the Earth's oceans combined. Europa, another Jovian moon, is also believed to have a subsurface ocean and has shown signs of geological activity. Callisto, the third largest moon of Jupiter, is thought to have a subsurface ocean and a unique, heavily cratered surface.

The JUICE mission has been a nearly decade-long effort, involving more than 80 companies and research centers from across Europe. Airbus was selected as the prime contractor by the ESA in 2015. The 6.2-tonne spacecraft is equipped with 10 cutting-edge scientific instruments, including cameras, spectrometers, a radar capable of penetrating ice, an altimeter, a radio-science experiment, and various sensors for magnetic and electric fields.

Today, the JUICE spacecraft was transported from Toulouse, France to the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, aboard an Antonov aircraft, in preparation for its scheduled launch on an Ariane 5 rocket in April 2023. The start of the launch campaign marks the beginning of the spacecraft's journey to collect data on the icy moons and shed light on the possibilities of life beyond our planet.

The JUICE spacecraft will complete a unique tour of the Jupiter system, including in-depth studies of the three potentially ocean-bearing moons. The spacecraft will collect data on the moons to try to understand whether there is any possibility that they could host microbial life. The mission will last for over a decade and will be an unprecedented journey of discovery, managed by the European Space Agency.

With the launch of the JUICE spacecraft, we are one step closer to uncovering the mysteries of the Jovian system and the possibilities of life beyond our planet. The mission promises to provide valuable insights into the formation and evolution of planetary systems and has the potential to change the way we view our place in the universe.

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NASA's Juno Team assessing camera after 48th flyby of Jupiter
San Antonio TX (SPX) Jan 27, 2023
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