European Space Agency Successfully Launches Mission to Jupiter’s Moons

The European Space Agency has successfully launched its mission to Jupiter’s moons after weather conditions halted yesterday’s lift-off. The Ariane 5 rocket was launched from the ESA’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana as scheduled.

The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) project aims to send a satellite on an eight-year journey to reach the icy moons of the gas giant. The spacecraft will use a gravitational sling-shot technique around Earth and Venus to give it enough energy to reach Jupiter.

The probe worth 1.6 billion Euros, could tell us whether Jupiter’s major moons – Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa- have the conditions to support simple life. Jupiter’s three are thought to harbor big liquid-water oceans beneath their icy shells.

After this final Earth encounter, the solar-powered probe will head toward Jupiter more directly, finally reaching the gas giant in July 2031. JUICE will then perform yet another flyby, this time of the huge Jovian moon Ganymede, to itself into orbit around Jupiter.

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