The JUICE probe leaves Europe and begins the home stretch before taking off for Jupiter

JUICE Airbus DS ESA Jupiter moons © ESA/M.  Pedoussaut

The JUICE probe and its two commemorative plaques (which we see very little because they are covered with the thermal coating). Credits ESA/M. Pedoussaut

The tests in Toulouse are over, the ESA probe is ready for her last earthly journey: the one who will take her to Guyana ! The teams celebrated the end of the preparation by installing a plaque with the reproduction of pages written by Galileo after his first observations of Jupiter.

Next step ? Takeoff.

Flight authorization

For now, JUICE is still in Toulouse. The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer probe is currently receiving authorizations for its departure one after the other, not only for the Guiana Space Center, but also and above all for Jupiter! In December, the vehicle passed its last test in a vacuum chamber (still carried out at the premises of Airbus Defense & Space) which simulated the conditions of its journey, then its internal systems were validated thanks to a test which connected the probe in Toulouse with the ESOC control center in Darmstadt, Germany. Finally, on January 18, JUICE received its administrative start, the “Qualification and Acceptance Review” All lights are green! At the beginning of February, the probe will leave by plane for the Guiana Space Center, before a final inspection on site, the filling of its tanks and the installation on one of the very last Ariane 5… Take-off is currently scheduled for 13 April, with a shooting window that lasts about two weeks.

JUICE Airbus DS commemorative plaque © ESA/M.  Pedoussaut

The plates, although important, should not influence the behavior of the probe. Credits ESA/M. Pedoussaut

JUICE beside the plate

To celebrate the end of this long preparation and the upcoming departure, the teams hung two plaques on the side of the probe. The first, dedicated to collaborators, contains the names of those who participated in the design, production, assembly and testing of JUICE. The second is a little more special… Installed by the ESA, it celebrates the mathematician, physicist and astronomer Galileo (Galileo Galilei), and in particular his discovery in 1610, thanks to an astronomical telescope, of the great moons of Jupiter! The plate is a reproduction of a few pages of his work written in stride, Sidereus Nuncius, which explains its characteristics and method. A nice tribute, knowing that JUICE will study three “frozen moons” Europa, Callisto and Ganymede, before remaining in orbit of the latter for its end of mission.

This will be the most distant of the missions operated purely by ESA. ESA Credits

Travel Travel

The JUICE probe is therefore entering the final phase of its preparation, and for ESA this also means preparing for the operations occurring just after take-off (testing of internal systems, deployment of antennas and instruments, evaluation of instruments). It will also be necessary to prepare for the periods of vigil which will be numerous between April 2023 and July 2031 for its arrival in the Jovian System around Jupiter. We will however have the opportunity to talk about it again for its numerous flybys of the Earth and even of Venus.



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