24/7 Space News
OUTER PLANETS
Juice burns hard towards first-ever Earth-Moon flyby
Juice will make three Earth flybys during its cruise: one of the Earth-Moon system in August 2024, one of Earth in September 2026, and once again one of Earth in January 2029.
ADVERTISEMENT
     
Juice burns hard towards first-ever Earth-Moon flyby
by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) Nov 17, 2023

ESA's Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) launched from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana on 14 April 2023.

It's on a mission to make detailed observations of the giant gas planet and its three large, ocean-bearing moons - Ganymede, Callisto and Europa.

But Juice won't begin its investigations into the nature and possible habitability of the Jupiter system until its arrival in 2031.

Why does it take so long to get to Jupiter? Well, the short answer is that its less to do with the distance between Earth and Jupiter and more to do with fighting the Sun's massive gravitational pull as you venture outwards through the Solar System.

Missions to the giant gas planets, such as Juice, Europa Clipper, Galileo or Juno, would be little more than giant fuel tanks if they had to store all the energy needed to overcome the Sun's gravity by themselves.

Instead, they make use of 'gravity-assist' or 'flyby' manoeuvres to gain energy by swinging through the strong gravitational fields of various planets on the way.

Shooting for the Moon
Juice's first boost will come from its home planet, when it returns to Earth in August 2024, more than one year after launch.

In fact, in a first-of-its-kind flyby, Juice will first pass by the Moon to give it an extra kick and make the flyby of Earth that takes place 1.5 days later even more effective.

But even with this extra boost, to get the most out of the gravity assist, Juice has to arrive at the Earth-Moon system at precisely the correct time, at the correct speed and travelling in the correct direction.

That's where this manoeuvre comes in.

On 17 November, at 16:10 (CET), Juice's main engine performed a burn that lasted roughly 43 minutes.

"This manoeuvre used up roughly 363 kg of fuel - or almost exactly 10% of the 3650kg of fuel that Juice launched with," says Julia Schwartz, Flight Dynamics Engineer at ESA's ESOC mission control centre in Germany.

This is Juice's largest manoeuvre so far. Until today, Juice had only used roughly 10 kg of fuel - mostly as part of a series of short burns used to help free its stuck RIME antenna.

"It was the first part of a two-part manoeuvre to put Juice on the correct trajectory for next summer's encounter with Earth and the Moon. This first burn did 95% of the work, changing Juice's velocity by almost 200 m/s," adds Julia.

"Juice is one of the heaviest interplanetary spacecraft ever launched, with a total mass of around 6000 kg, so it took a lot of force and a lot of fuel to achieve this."

"In a few weeks, once we've analysed Juice's new orbit, we will carry out the second, much smaller second part of the manoeuvre. Splitting the manoeuvre into two parts allows us to use the second firing of the engine to iron out any inaccuracies of the first."

An additional, much smaller manoeuvre using Juice's smaller thrusters may be carried out in May 2024 for the final fine tuning during the approach to Earth.

Last use of the main engine until 2031
For a mission on an eight-year journey, burning 10% of your fuel reserve in just 43 minutes may seem crazy. But investing all that fuel now will pay off for years to come.

"If all goes well with both parts of this manoeuvre, we likely won't need to use the main engine again until we enter orbit around Jupiter in 2031," says Ignacio Tanco, Juice Spacecraft Operations Manager. "For small trajectory corrections between now and then, we will use Juice's smaller thrusters."

But that doesn't mean nothing interesting will happen between now and Juice's arrival at Jupiter. Quite the opposite, the journey is interesting because it allows Juice to get all the way to Jupiter without firing of its main engine again, reducing the amount of fuel the spacecraft needs and allowing it to be packed full of scientific instruments.

After the Earth-Moon double flyby of 2024 (knows as a Lunar-Earth Gravity Assist; LEGA), Juice will first make one flyby of Venus in 2025 and two further flybys of Earth in 2026 and 2029 (both without the additional boost from the Moon).

"Today's manoeuvre will ensure Juice arrives at the Earth-Moon system at the right time next year for the double flyby," adds Ignacio.

"And, thanks to the clever trajectory designed by our Mission Analysis team, that flyby will line it up almost perfectly for all of the others, without us having to fire the main engine again."

With each flyby, the spacecraft will gain more energy than could be achieved by burning a reasonable amount of fuel - energy that will help it climb towards Jupiter against the pull of the Sun's gravity.

"It was very important that we carry out this manoeuvre today. Otherwise, the cost - how much fuel we would need to burn to reach the new orbit we need - would begin to shoot up dramatically," says Ignacio.

Today's burn also gave the teams the opportunity to make sure Juice's main engine is working correctly. It was first tested shortly after launch, but it until today, it hadn't been used for such a big manoeuvre out in deep space.

"There were some things that we couldn't test before now. For example, we only had an estimate for how the liquid in the fuel tanks will move around as the spacecraft accelerates. This is very important to know precisely, because if the fuel behaves different to how we expect, it could cause the spacecraft to drift off course during the burn. So, we are monitoring closely."

Next stop: Jupiter!
The next time that Juice will absolutely have to fire its main engine is during its 'Jupiter Orbit Insertion' in 2031. This is the single most important manoeuvre that the teams at ESOC will oversee.

Just 13 hours after swinging by Ganymede and entering the Jupiter system, the spacecraft will need to slow down by about 1 km/s - five times the change in velocity achieved today.

"That makes today's manoeuvre also an important test for Jupiter insertion - the sooner we know if we have any issues with the main engine, the better," says Ignacio.

Once in orbit around the gas giant, Juice can begin its exploration of the Jupiter system. Teams at ESOC will steer Juice through a series of 35 flybys of the ocean moons. Where once flybys were a yearly occurrence, at Jupiter they will be carried out as often as once every two weeks.

These close-ups of the icy moons will allow the spacecraft and scientists on Earth to gather the data needed to better understand these mysterious alien worlds.

Juice - up to date and behind the scenes
Want to know more about how Juice was imagined, designed, constructed and launched? The feature-length film, 'The Making of Juice', premieres on ESA's YouTube channel at 18:00 CET on 23 November 2023.

Related Links
Juice at ESA
The million outer planets of a star called Sol

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

RELATED CONTENT
The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
OUTER PLANETS
Juno finds Jupiter's winds penetrate in cylindrical layers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Nov 10, 2023
Gravity data collected by NASA's Juno mission indicates Jupiter's atmospheric winds penetrate the planet in a cylindrical manner, parallel to its spin axis. A paper on the findings was recently published in the journal Nature Astronomy. The violent nature of Jupiter's roiling atmosphere has long been a source of fascination for astronomers and planetary scientists, and Juno has had a ringside seat to the goings-on since it entered orbit in 2016. During each of the spacecraft's 55 to date, a suite ... read more

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
OUTER PLANETS
NASA awards $2.3 million to study growing food in lunar dust

Earth bacteria could make lunar soil more habitable for plants

GreenOnyx's Wanna Greens Makes Space Debut Aboard SpaceX CRS-29 Mission

Big bang: Dutch firm eyes space baby

OUTER PLANETS
Heat Shield demo passes the test dubbed 'Just flawless'

UK Space Agency backs Orbit Fab's innovative refueling interface, GRASP

Starship Test Flies Higher: SpaceX Marks Progress Despite Late Test Incident

US 'strongly condemns' N. Korean space launch

OUTER PLANETS
NASA uses two worlds to test future Mars helicopter designs

California lawmakers ask NASA not to cut Mars budget

Spacecraft fall silent as Mars disappears behind the Sun

The Long Wait

OUTER PLANETS
China's BeiDou and Fengyun Satellites Elevate Global Weather Forecasting Capabilities

New scientific experimental samples from China's space station return to Earth

Shenzhou XVI crew return after 'very cool journey'

Chinese astronauts return to Earth with fruitful experimental results

OUTER PLANETS
SpaceX launches more Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral

Instruments led by IRF selected for ESA potential future mission to either Mars or Earth's Orbit

Maxar hands over JUPITER 3, to EchoStar

Maritime Launch reports non-brokered private placement of convertible debentures

OUTER PLANETS
ReOrbit's Report Highlights Software-First Satellites as Key Growth Drivers in Space Industry

Climate conspiracy theories flourish ahead of COP28

NASA's Deep Space Optical Comm Demo Sends, Receives First Data

Rice researcher scans tropical forest with mixed-reality device

OUTER PLANETS
Deformable Mirrors in Space: Key Technology to Directly Image Earth Twins

Hubble measures the size of the nearest transiting Earth-sized planet

NASA data reveals possible reason some exoplanets are shrinking

Webb detects water vapor, sulfur dioxide and sand clouds in the atmosphere of a nearby exoplanet

OUTER PLANETS
Juice burns hard towards first-ever Earth-Moon flyby

Fall into an ice giant's atmosphere

Juno finds Jupiter's winds penetrate in cylindrical layers

Salts and organics observed on Ganymede's surface by June

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters


ADVERTISEMENT



The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2023 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.