Research of Jupiter and its moons is the aim of the JUICE mission carried out by the European Space Agency (ESA). Polish scientists, engineers and companies are involved in work connected with the mission.
The over-seven-year-long mission to travel to the most massive planet in the solar system will commence in 2022.
The JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) is one of the missions currently being conducted by ESA.
The project, whose total cost stands at almost EUR 900 million, is part of a strategic ESA science programme called Cosmic Vision 2015-2025, aimed at answering the most important questions about the universe − what conditions enable the formation of planets and the emergence of life, how does the solar system function, how was the universe created and what it is made of.
The research aims of the JUICE project are strictly connected with the answers to those questions.
The main aim of JUICE is to research the Jupiter planetary system, primarily Ganymede − the planet’s biggest moon and also the largest moon in the solar system. It is believed to have been discovered by the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, who observed and described Jupiter’s biggest satellites - Io, Europa and Callisto - in the 17th century.
“Although it has been possible to discover 70 natural satellites so far orbiting the biggest gas giant, the mass of four ‘Galilean moons’ represents almost 99 percent of the mass circling Jupiter,” explained Jacek Kosiec, space programme director at Warsaw-based Creotech Instruments. The company is participating in preparations for the mission.
“On their surfaces we find ice and scientists suspect that prevailing conditions at greater depth, including the presence of liquid water, might be conducive to the emergence of life,” Mr Kosiec said.