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Van KaneMarch 7, 2013

Instruments for the JUICE Jovian Mission

The European Space Agency (ESA) announced the list of instruments selected for its JUICE mission to explore the Jovian system for three years starting in 2030 following a 2022 launch. (NASA is a junior partner on the mission.) The JUICE spacecraft will make two close flybys of the moon Europa, several flybys of Callisto, and then will settle into orbit around Ganymede for an extended study of that moon. During the tour of Europa and Callisto, the spacecraft will observe the cloud deck of Jupiter and investigate the magnetosphere surrounding the king of planets.

JUICE (JUpiter Icy moon Explorer)


JUICE (JUpiter Icy moon Explorer)

The JUICE mission will be a worthy successor to the Galileo mission of the 1980s and 1990s that similarly toured the Jovian system. To keep the cost of the mission around 1B Euro, the spacecraft will have only modest radiation hardening and will only briefly tiptoe into the higher radiation fields close to Jupiter. Hence, the spacecraft will make just two flybys of Europa where Galileo did a number of flybys. Unlike Galileo, the JUICE spacecraft will not come closer to Jupiter than the orbit of Europa and hence will not do close flybys of the moon Io. However, it will observe Io remotely to gauge its volcanic activity.

ESA’s mission will compliment NASA’s Juno mission that is en route to Jupiter. Juno will perform extremely close observations of Jupiter, skimming above the top of the atmosphere. During the close encounters, Juno will see just a tiny slice of the giant planet that lies directly beneath its orbit, but will see the entire area of each pole as it approaches and recedes from Jupiter. JUICE on the other hand will see the entire planet and be better able to study broad weather patterns, but only will see the poles obliquely. Also, Juno will ignore the moons, while JUICE makes the moons the primary focus.

ESA’s press release said very little about the instruments, literally giving just their names. (I suspect they were leaving the details to be given in the press releases from the individual nations funding the instruments.) Press releases from NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory provided additional information on the instruments they are participating on. For the remainder of this post, I've organized the instruments by study area and pieced together the limited information from the three press releases and from the JUICE Assessment Study Report (the “Yellow Book”) that discussed general goals for types of instruments.

Remote sensing instruments to image and map composition:

Three instruments will map the physical structure of the moons during close encounters and from Ganymede orbit:

Several instruments will study the magnetospheres of Jupiter and Ganymede and the particles trapped within them:

A final instrument “does not include spacecraft hardware but will exploit VLBI – Very Large Base Interferometry – to conduct radio science.” I'm not sure what that means, but here is the instrument's name: 

When more information becomes available, I’ll write additional posts on the instruments.

Read more: Jupiter's moons, Europa, Ganymede, mission status, Future Robotic Missions, Callisto, explaining technology, explaining science, Jupiter, JUICE

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