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A journey to explore Jupiter’s icy moons with space probe JUICE
Do extraterrestrial life forms exist beneath the ice crust of Jupiter’s moons?
That is what JUICE, a space probe that was launched atop Ariane 5 on April 14, is meant to discover.
Why should we explore Jupiter?
The largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter is remarkably different from Earth:
- It is a giant gas planet; in other words, it has no solid surface to stand on.
- It has more than 60 moons in orbit.
- Above all, giant oceans, which could possibly host life forms, may be hidden beneath the ice shells of certain moons.
Water, of course, is essential to life! But only water in liquid form makes life possible. Life, whether it be microbial, animal, plant or human, has thrived on Earth as a result of our planet’s large amount of water. It’s not called the “blue planet” for nothing! For many years, however, scientists believed it to be the exception in our solar system. But it may not be the case. Jupiter’s moons contain huge amounts of water, and thus, maybe life…
What is the space mission’s goal?
Scientists intend the space probe (a device sent into space to collect scientific information about various elements, such as planets, moons, comets, asteroids, etc.) to explore Jupiter’s system and its three largest moons: Ganymede, Callisto and Europa.
The probe named JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer), will enter Jupiter’s orbit in 2031.
The JUICE mission will help us understand the conditions required to host life. After all, there is life on Earth; why not elsewhere? The answer is eight years away… patience, my friends!