Successfully lifted off: European probe starts long journey to Jupiter


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Successfully picked up
European probe starts long journey to Jupiter

The Jupiter probe JUICE is launched to the most distant destination of the European Space Agency ESA to date. After the first launch date has been postponed, it finally lifts off successfully from the spaceport in French Guiana.

After being postponed by one day, the European space probe JUICE was launched to the giant gas planet Jupiter. It is the most distant target of the European Space Agency ESA so far. The probe lifted off at 2:14 p.m. (CEST) on board an Ariane 5 launch vehicle from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, as shown by images from a live transmission at the ESA Control Center in Darmstadt.

The start originally planned for Thursday was canceled due to a risk of thunderstorms. JUICE is now on its way to hundreds of millions of kilometers away to the gas giant Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system.

With ten instruments on board, the probe will primarily analyze the large moons of Jupiter. There, water is assumed to be under a thick layer of ice and thus the prerequisites for life. According to ESA Flight Operations Director Andrea Accomazzo, it will travel around six billion kilometers in the coming years because its journey is not straightforward.

Arrive in 2031

On the mission, which will cost more than a billion euros, the scientists want to take a look at the Jupiter moons Europa, Callisto and Ganymede after arrival in 2031. With the ten instruments, nine from European partners and one from the US space agency NASA, various investigations are possible, including radar and laser measurements. The radar can also collect data under the ice layer. The surface of Ganymede is to be measured with the Laser Altimeter GALA (Ganymede Laser Altimeter). Together with the data and images from the JANUS camera, a digital 3D model of the moon, which is completely covered with ice, can later be created.

Before the probe can start its work on Jupiter, it still has a long way to go. During its eight-year journey, it has to fly once around Venus and three times around the earth to gain speed. Their solar panels with a total size of 85 square meters are to supply energy.

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