The European Space Agency (ESA) has confirmed the successful launch of an Ariane 5 rocket carrying the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE). JUICE tried to launch on Thursday but bad weather delayed it until Friday. The spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter in July 2031 and do its work in the Jovian system until September 2035.
The journey to Jupiter is a little bit complex and includes several gravity assists, here’s how it will go. In August, JUICE will perform a Lunar-Earth flyby and head off towards Venus. A year later, it will perform a flyby of Venus before heading back towards Earth for a flyby in September 2026. Three years later, in January 2029, it will perform another flyby of Earth and head for Jupiter.
It will arrive at Jupiter in July 2031 and until November 2034 will perform a tour of the Jovian system doing 35 icy moon flybys. Finally, from December 2034 to September 2035, it will enter orbit around Jupiter’s moon, Ganymede.
JUICE will use remote sensing, geophysical and in situ instruments to learn more about its destinations. It will learn about Jupiter’s complex magnetic, radiation, and plasma environment and its interactions with its moons. Hopefully, we’ll learn if there are signs of life in the region and get great pictures back.