JUICE – JUpiter ICy moons Explorer – is the first large-class mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 programme. Scheduled for launch in 2022, with arrival in the Jovian system in 2029, JUICE will spend three-and-a-half years examining the giant planet’s turbulent atmosphere, enormous magnetosphere, its set of tenuous dark rings and its satellites. It will study the large icy moons Ganymede, Europa and Callisto, which are thought to have oceans of liquid water beneath their icy crusts – perhaps even harbouring habitable environments.
The Jovian system is similar to small-scale star system, whit moons with unique environments and a central object with a composition similar to that of the Sun. This is the main reason why by studying it we can learn about how the Solar System and exoplanetary systems work, how planets are created, and how life can develop under different conditions.
JUICE will have to perform 26 flybys around Ganymede, Europa and Callisto, navigating autonomously through the three Galilean moons and guaranteeing that Europa will not be contaminated under any possible mission failure. The dynamically chaotic nature of the Jovian system increases the complexity of these analyses and challenges the state-of-the-art techniques usually employed for autonomous navigation and impact probability calculations.
Taking into account the aforementioned, the planetary protection and the mission navigation are critical activities for the Jovian mission success and Elecnor Deimos is the responsible of both crucial aspects.
Find all the information regarding the mission, as well as the latest news and updates in the ESA’s official site for the JUICE mission: http://sci.esa.int/juice/
Image credits: 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