JUICE spacecraft is ready for transportation to the cosmodrome

The JUICE interplanetary probe successfully passed a series of final tests that demonstrated its readiness for space flight. This is stated in a message published by Airbus.

Assembling the JUICE probe

The main objective of the JUICE mission is the three largest icy moons of Jupiter — Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. According to scientists, oceans of liquid water are hiding under their surface. JUICE must explore these worlds and assess their potential liveability.

JUICE spacecraft at the ESTEC test center. Source: ESA

The construction of JUICE began in 2015. The main contractor of the project was Airbus, and over 80 different European companies also took part in the work. The JUICE assembly was completed in May 2022. The last component installed on it was solar panels, which total area of almost 100 m2. They will provide the probe with the necessary energy to work in the vicinity of Jupiter.

After the assembly was completed, JUICE successfully passed a series of tests that certified its readiness to withstand a stay in outer space. After completing the tests, the engineers began preparations for transporting the probe to the Kourou cosmodrome in French Guiana. JUICE will be delivered there in February, after which it will be prepared for the launch scheduled for April.

JUICE Flight Plan

The ballistic window for the JUICE launch will be open from April 14 to April 30, 2023. Since the power of the Ariane 5 launch vehicle is not enough to send a six-ton probe directly to Jupiter, it will need to perform a series of four gravitational maneuvers in the vicinity of Venus, Earth and the Moon to accelerate. On the way to the goal, JUICE can also fly over the passing asteroid Rosa.

JUICE station in the artist’s image. Source: Spacecraft: ESA/ATG medialab; Jupiter: NASA/ESA/J. Nichols (University of Leicester); Ganymede: NASA/JPL; Io: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona; Callisto and Europa: NASA/JPL/DLR

After a series of maneuvers, JUICE will enter a permanent orbit around Jupiter, which will allow it to begin performing its scientific tasks. In total, the device will have to perform two close flights of Europa, twelve flights of Callisto and twelve flights of Ganymede. 

In December 2034, JUICE will enter a permanent 500-kilometer orbit around Ganymede. The flight program provides for the study of the moon until the end of 2035, after which JUICE will be hit on its icy surface.

Recall that the JUICE launch will be the last mission for the Ariane 5 rocket. It will be replaced by the new Ariane 6 carrier, which commissioning is delayed due to various problems.

According to https://spacenews.com

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