The European Space Agency outlines plan for Jupiter moon tour

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,135   +154
Staff member
In a nutshell: The European Space Agency has outlined its plans and goals for an upcoming mission to Jupiter. With any luck, Juice - short for the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer - will bring us a step closer to better understanding the mysteries of these moons.

Juice will leave Earth on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou in April 2023. The spacecraft will leverage four gravity assist maneuvers over the next several years to help propel it towards our solar system's largest planet while conserving as much propellant as possible.

Once on its way, the craft will take a little more than two years to reach its target. Should everything go according to plan, Juice will conduct its first flyby of Jovian moon Ganymede in July 2031. Flybys of Europa and Callisto are also in the cards.

Astronomers believe some of Jupiter's moons may contain liquid water under their icy surfaces. Ganymede, which is the largest moon in the solar system, is also the only one to have a magnetosphere.

The craft will ultimately settle into an orbit around Ganymede and remain there until its orbit naturally decays. In late 2035 once all of the craft's propellant is used up, Juice will impact the surface of the moon. Of course by that time, we should know a lot more about the universe as a whole thanks to the James Webb Space Telescope.

The mission will notably be the last for the Ariane 5 launch vehicle, which will be replaced by the Ariane 6.

Image credit NASA

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Uncle Al

Posts: 8,756   +7,668
Considering some of the things they have seen in this one and Saturn it could be a real grab bag of interesting discoveries .......
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 5,335   +4,980
So it will take just over 2 years to get to where it's going... yet it won't arrive until 2031?

Is there a typo? Or can someone explain where the missing 6 years are?
 

seeprime

Posts: 677   +886
So it will take just over 2 years to get to where it's going... yet it won't arrive until 2031?

Is there a typo? Or can someone explain where the missing 6 years are?
This is from planetary.org:
"JUICE is planned to launch in mid-2022 and arrive at Jupiter in 2029. It will spend 2.5 years orbiting Jupiter, often flying within 200 to 1,000 kilometers (about 120 to 620 miles) of the icy moons."

It will take seven years to arrive at Jupiter after leaving earth, not two.
 

lripplinger

Posts: 338   +138
Challenging mission to get to Jupiter. The Juno spacecraft that has brought us back incredible images of Jupiter faced many hurtles. The solar radiation alone is very difficult to shield against. Jupiter has a very intense magnetic field, and thus is the garbage collector in our solar system. This is why it has so many moons around it. It would be really neat to see some close ups of some of its many moons.
 

Mr Majestyk

Posts: 1,215   +1,107
This is from planetary.org:
"JUICE is planned to launch in mid-2022 and arrive at Jupiter in 2029. It will spend 2.5 years orbiting Jupiter, often flying within 200 to 1,000 kilometers (about 120 to 620 miles) of the icy moons."

It will take seven years to arrive at Jupiter after leaving earth, not two.

That does not compute. These craft can hit close to 100000km/hr so even if Jupiter were 1 billion km away (and it's closer than that) it would only take 10000hrs or 1 and a bit years. To take seven years this would be the slowest solar craft ever launched averaging as pathetic 14000km/hr. They are using the earth and moon for slingshot effect initially so this thing will be travelling very fast before getting too far.

So unless the craft is stopping to explore say Mars for 6 years it does not make any sense at all.
 

mbk34

Posts: 307   +202
That does not compute. These craft can hit close to 100000km/hr so even if Jupiter were 1 billion km away (and it's closer than that) it would only take 10000hrs or 1 and a bit years. To take seven years this would be the slowest solar craft ever launched averaging as pathetic 14000km/hr. They are using the earth and moon for slingshot effect initially so this thing will be travelling very fast before getting too far.

So unless the craft is stopping to explore say Mars for 6 years it does not make any sense at all.
Remember the craft has to slow down enough to be able to orbit a moon once it reaches Jupiter. That means it needs to carry enough propellant to do this (and make other manoeuvres to visit the other moons) . Every 10Kg of propellant carried on the craft needs about 700kg of propellant to launch it into space from Earth. Then there's the weight of the launch vehicle itself. It's far better to just go slowly and just use gravity assist to help get you there.
 

mbk34

Posts: 307   +202
Jupiter has a very intense magnetic field, and thus is the garbage collector in our solar system. This is why it has so many moons around it.
The intense magnetic field is terrible for electronics but it wouldn't affect the rocks and ice floating around in orbit. The mass of Jupiter is 2 and a half times that of all the other planets combined and it's huge gravity is what makes it into a "garbage collector".
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,699   +6,640
That does not compute. These craft can hit close to 100000km/hr so even if Jupiter were 1 billion km away (and it's closer than that) it would only take 10000hrs or 1 and a bit years. To take seven years this would be the slowest solar craft ever launched averaging as pathetic 14000km/hr. They are using the earth and moon for slingshot effect initially so this thing will be travelling very fast before getting too far.

So unless the craft is stopping to explore say Mars for 6 years it does not make any sense at all.
Just because craft like these can reach the stated velocities does not mean they will, nor will any craft immediately reach such a velocity. If the craft were traveling in a straight line to rendezvous with Jupiter, the distance would be shorter, but it is not going to do that.

In fact, to reach its cruising velocity, it will perform several flybys for gravitational assists - to increase its velocity so that it will make it to Jupiter by its intended date. These flybys will include Venus, Earth, and the Earth-moon system. These flybys are, effectively, detours or way points in its journey which will add to the distance that it needs to travel, but are considered worth the extra distance because of the velocity that they will add to the craft's cruising speed.

The info published at planetary.org is certainly factual, and I cannot comprehend why someone would question it.

The Juice Fact sheet at the ESA web site also contains factual information about the mission. Orbital dynamics/celestial mechanics are well defined fields of mathematics that are behind the calculations for the travel time/gravity assist values of spacecraft. The calculations have been used for many years and many missions with a high degree of certainty and success.
 

Irata

Posts: 2,108   +3,635
That does not compute. These craft can hit close to 100000km/hr so even if Jupiter were 1 billion km away (and it's closer than that) it would only take 10000hrs or 1 and a bit years. To take seven years this would be the slowest solar craft ever launched averaging as pathetic 14000km/hr. They are using the earth and moon for slingshot effect initially so this thing will be travelling very fast before getting too far.

So unless the craft is stopping to explore say Mars for 6 years it does not make any sense at all.
Doesn‘t the craft need to slow down ? Am not an expert but if the craft is supposed to orbit the moons rather than shoot by them like e.g. Voyager a too high speed is not good.
 

Beerfloat

Posts: 506   +964
That does not compute. These craft can hit close to 100000km/hr so even if Jupiter were 1 billion km away (and it's closer than that) it would only take 10000hrs or 1 and a bit years. To take seven years this would be the slowest solar craft ever launched averaging as pathetic 14000km/hr. They are using the earth and moon for slingshot effect initially so this thing will be travelling very fast before getting too far.

So unless the craft is stopping to explore say Mars for 6 years it does not make any sense at all.

I reckon ESA could really use someone like you to fix their mission plotting. You should definitely mail them your concerns.
 

seeprime

Posts: 677   +886
That does not compute. These craft can hit close to 100000km/hr so even if Jupiter were 1 billion km away (and it's closer than that) it would only take 10000hrs or 1 and a bit years. To take seven years this would be the slowest solar craft ever launched averaging as pathetic 14000km/hr. They are using the earth and moon for slingshot effect initially so this thing will be travelling very fast before getting too far.

So unless the craft is stopping to explore say Mars for 6 years it does not make any sense at all.
That does not compute. These craft can hit close to 100000km/hr so even if Jupiter were 1 billion km away (and it's closer than that) it would only take 10000hrs or 1 and a bit years. To take seven years this would be the slowest solar craft ever launched averaging as pathetic 14000km/hr. They are using the earth and moon for slingshot effect initially so this thing will be travelling very fast before getting too far.

So unless the craft is stopping to explore say Mars for 6 years it does not make any sense at all.
Visits to other planets in our solar system utilize gravity assists that often take years to complete. Doing so requires less fuels since the slingshot effect works wonders in efficiency. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-does-the-slingshot-ef/