JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE): The First Large ESA Cosmic Vision Mission


Speaker: Athena Coustenis

Date: 12 September 2013
Start Time: 7 pm
End Time: 8:30 pm

Venue: 27/29 South Lambeth Road, Vauxhall, London, SW8 1SZ

The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) mission selected by ESA as the first large mission within the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 plan, is being developed to address questions regarding the Jupiter system and its satellites, with a focus on the largest moon, Ganymede. By thoroughly exploring the system and thereby unravelling the history of its evolution, from initial formation of the planet to the development of its satellite system, we will gain a general under-standing of how gas giant planets and their satellite systems form and evolve and of how our Solar System works. The overarching theme for JUICE is the emergence of habitable worlds around gas giants taking into account the requirements involving the presence of organic compounds, trace elements, water, energy sources and a relative stability of the environment over time.

Ganymede is identified for detailed investigation since it provides a natural laboratory for analysis of the potential habitability of icy worlds in general, but also because of the role it plays within the system of Galilean satellites, and its unique magnetic and plasma interactions with the surrounding Jovian environment. For Europa, two targeted flybys are planned, with a focus on the chemistry essential to life, including organic molecules, and on understanding the formation of surface features and the composition of the non water-ice material, leading to the identification and characterisation of candidate sites for future in situ exploration. Furthermore, JUICE will determine the characteristics of liquid-water oceans below the icy surfaces of the moons. The mission will also focus on characterising the diversity of processes in the Jupiter system which may be required in order to provide a stable environment at Ganymede, Europa and Callisto on geologic time scales, including gravitational coupling between the Galilean satel-lites and their long term tidal influence on the system as a whole.

Focused studies of Jupiter’s atmosphere, magnetosphere and their interaction with the Galilean satellites will further enhance our understanding of the evolution and dynamics of the Jovian system. The circulation, meteorology, chemistry and structure of Jupiter will be studied from the cloud tops to the thermosphere.

The mission scenario foresees arrival in the Jupiter system following orbit insertion, during which JUICE will perform a tour of the Jupiter system using gravity assists of the Galilean satel-lites to shape its trajectory. This tour will include continuous monitoring of Jupiter’s magneto-sphere and atmosphere, two targeted Europa flybys, a Callisto flyby phase reaching Jupiter latitudes of 30°, culminating with the dedicated Ganymede orbital phase. The current end of mission scenario involves spacecraft impact on Ganymede. The JUICE mission is planned to be launched in mid-2022, with a backup opportunity in August 2023. It will arrive at Jupiter in Janu-ary 2030 after 7.6-years using an Earth-Venus-Earth-Earth gravity assist sequence and is fore-seen to last for 3 and a half years.

Athena Coustenis is Director of Research with the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) of France, based at Paris Observatory in Meudon. Her speciality is Planetology (exploration of the Solar System from ground-based and space observations). Her research is devoted to the investigation of planetary atmospheres and surfaces, with emphasis on icy moons like Titan, Saturn’s satellite, having many similarities with that of our own planet, as well as on Ganymede and Europa, the galilean satellites to be explored by the JUICE mission in 2030. She also works on exoplanets. She has published more than 150 research articles and co-authored 3 books. She is currently presiding (or participating in the leadership) of several scientific Societies for planetary and atmospheric sciences and space agencies advisory committees.

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