A plaque celebrating Galileo’s discovery of Jupiter’s moons has been unveiled on the European Space Agency’s Jupiter Ice Moons Explorer. The spacecraft has just completed its final tests before departing Toulouse, France, for the European spaceport countdown to an April launch.
As part of the final preparations, a commemorative plaque was installed on the site Space ship As a tribute to the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei who was the first to view Jupiter and its four moons through a telescope in January 1610. His observation that the moons changed position from night to night overturned the long-established notion that everything in the sky revolved around the Earth. The moons – Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto – were to be known as the Galilean moons in his honor.
The painting, which repeats several pages of Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius where he describes his observations of the moons, was unveiled at the Airbus of Toulouse on January 20. After the event, the spacecraft will be packed for its journey across the Atlantic Ocean to French Guiana where it will be ready for launch on Ariane 5 from the European Spaceport.
“The unveiling of the plate is a beautiful moment in this intense chapter preparing spacecraft for launch,” says Giuseppe Sari, ESA’s Juice Project Manager. “It is not only an opportunity to pause and reflect on the decades-long hard work that went into conceiving, building, and testing the spacecraft, but also to celebrate the curiosity and wonder of all who gazed at Jupiter in the night sky and pondered our origins—the inspiration behind this mission.”
The answer to humanity’s big questions
Three of Jupiter’s largest moons – Europa, Ganymede and Callisto – have vast amounts of water buried beneath their surfaces in volumes much larger than Earth’s oceans. These planet-sized moons give us tantalizing hints that conditions for life could exist other than what is found here on our pale blue dot, orbiting Giant planets instead of hot stars. Jupiter and its family of large moons are archetypal to gas giant planetary systems throughout the universe, and thus some of the most compelling destinations in our solar system.
The European Space Agency and its international partners are almost ready to send Juice on her quest to explore this fascinating planet and its intriguing moons. With his collection of powerful tools, Juice will see Jupiter and its moons in a way Galileo could never have dreamed of. The data returned by the spacecraft will serve many future generations of scientists determined to unlock the secrets of the Jovian system and its place in the evolution of our solar system.
says Cyril Cavill, Juice Project Director at Airbus Defense and Space. “It has been a fantastic adventure, with more than 80 companies across Europe, to bring the vision of the European Space Agency to life and eventually study Jupiter and its icy moons in depth.”
Three important milestones have been completed in the past weeks alone. In December, the spacecraft completed a final thermal vacuum test required to confirm its readiness for the extreme temperatures caused by the space environment.
Last week saw the final “system validation test” of the spacecraft – which was sitting in Toulouse – “connected” to Mission Control at the European Space Agency’s Space Operations Center (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, to simulate the first activities after launch when Juice’s various arrays explode. And appendices will unfold, with the final version of the itinerary
Finally, and most importantly, on January 18, the qualification and acceptance review confirmed readiness to proceed with launch preparations at the spaceport.
Juice will lift off on Ariane 5 in April—the last ESA mission to fly on this launch pad before Ariane 6 takes over.
Preparing for a treacherous journey
In parallel, while Juice moves into Spaceport, a strong focus of activities continues to be centered on the European Space Agency’s ESOC Mission control Center in Germany. Flight control teams will ramp up their launch training and early operations in a series of 16 intense multi-day simulations.
“This is the largest deep space mission we’ve ever launched, and it needs to gracefully circle the moons of the largest planet in the solar system using no fewer than 35 flybys,” explains Andrea Accomazzo, director of flight operations for the mission.
“Juice’s exploration of Jupiter and its moons will require us to perform a decade of operations that we’ve never done before, and a lot can go wrong. In these weeks of simulations, we’ll run into every possible problem, so we can handle any situation in space.”
After launch, Juice will fly on an eight-year cycle through the solar system, twisting its path with the help of Earth’s gravity and Venus to catapult it to Jupiter.
Depending on the exact day of its launch – and therefore depending on the geometry of the solar system on that day – Juicy could perform the first-ever gravity assist on the Moon. This will see the mission conduct a flyby of the Moon and just one day after the Earth flyby.
Once in the Jupiter system, Juice will encounter a harsh radiation and temperature environment, hundreds of millions of kilometers from Earth, in order to collect data that will reveal the secrets of the planet’s complex environment and ocean-bearing moons.
To fly such a complex trajectory from such an enormous distance—and, vitally, to get Juice data—would require extreme navigation techniques, drawing on the European Space Agency’s Estrack network of deep-space antennas in Spain, Argentina and Australia, controlled remotely from ESOC.
The spacecraft, ground support equipment, and personnel will arrive at Spaceport in early February for extensive launch site preparations, which culminate in launch in April.
European Space Agency
the quote: Galileo Plaque Unveiled on Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, Juice (2023, January 23) Retrieved January 23, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-01-galileo-tribute-plaque-unveiled-jupiter. html
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