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After some delays, ESA’s JUICE space probe has departed. The missile was launched at 2.16 pm Dutch time. The probe was supposed to start its space flight yesterday, but due to bad weather at the base in French Guiana, the launch was canceled ten minutes before departure.
The Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer, or JUICE for short, is on its way to Jupiter. About a hundred moons revolve around the planet. The main purpose of the space mission is to investigate whether life could arise on those moons. The results of this will be a while: JUICE probably won’t reach Jupiter until the summer of 2031.
The Dutch also contributed to the construction of the rocket: JUICE is equipped with 85 square meters of folded solar panels made by the aerospace technology company Airbus in Leiden.
Watch the launch here:
Launch of the JUICE probe to study the icy moons of Jupiter
The launch of the rocket, and with it the launch of the space mission, was an exciting moment for ESA. In 2016, the European Space Agency organized its last independent mission beyond the orbit of Mars.
Once on Jupiter, JUICE will conduct research on three of the planet’s moons: Europa, Ganymede, and Calisto. Scientists have high expectations of Europe in particular: Large amounts of water are said to be found there, which is important for the possible existence of life.
In addition, scientists hope JUICE will tell them more about the workings of our solar system and there are instruments on the probe that can determine the composition of the atmosphere or measure the presence of radioactivity.
At the end of the mission, the probe will orbit Ganymede several times before crashing into the moon in 2035.
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