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NASA says yes to JUICE

NASA’s partnership in a future European Space Agency mission to Jupiter and its moons moving to implementation phase of instruments

NASA’s partnership in a future European Space Agency (ESA) mission to Jupiter and its moons has cleared a key milestone, moving from preliminary instrument design to implementation phase

Designed to investigate the emergence of habitable worlds around gas giants, the JUpiter ICy Moons Explorer (JUICE) is scheduled to launch in five years, arriving at Jupiter in October 2029.

JUICE will spend almost four years studying Jupiter’s giant magnetosphere, turbulent atmosphere, and its icy Galilean moons—Callisto, Ganymede and Europa.  

 

The April 6 milestone, known as Key Decision Point C (KDP-C), is the agency-level approval for the project to enter building phase. It also provides a baseline for the mission’s schedule and budget. 

The next milestone for the NASA contributions will be the Critical Design Review (CDR), which will take place in about one year. The CDR for the overall ESA JUICE mission is planned in spring 2019.

 

JUICE is a large-class mission—the first in ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 program carrying a suite of 10 science instruments. NASA will provide the Ultraviolet Spectrograph (UVS), and also will provide subsystems and components for two additional instruments: the Particle Environment Package (PEP) and the Radar for Icy Moon Exploration (RIME) experiment.

 

The UVS was selected to observe the dynamics and atmospheric chemistry of the Jovian system, including its icy satellites and volcanic moon Io. With the planet Jupiter itself, the instrument team hopes to learn more about the vertical structure of its stratosphere and determine the relationship between changing magnetospheric conditions to observed auroral structures.

 

The PEP is a suite of six sensors led by the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF), capable of providing a 3-D map of the plasma system that surrounds Jupiter.

 

The Radar for Icy Moon Exploration (RIME) experiment, an ice penetrating radar, which is a key instrument for achieving groundbreaking science on the geology, is led by the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), in Pasadena, California, is providing key subsystems to the instrument, which is designed to penetrate the surface of Jupiter's icy moons to learn more about their subsurface structure. The instrument will focus on Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa, to determine the formation mechanisms and interior processes that occur to produce bodies of subsurface water. On Europa, the instrument also will search for thin areas of ice and locations with the most geological activity, such as plumes.