Mission to find life on Jupiter’s moons to launch again | tech news
The European Space Agency will make a second attempt to launch its mission to Jupiter and its moons after being postponed due to a risk of lightning.
Dubbed Juice (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer), the six-ton probe was due to launch Thursday for the solar system’s largest planet to see if its ocean-bearing moons support life.
But weather conditions indicated there was a risk of lightning, temporarily halting the agency’s first attempt to send a spacecraft into orbit around another planet’s moon.
Arianespace, which developed the Ariane 5 Juice rocket, said on Twitter that the next attempt will take place on April 14 at 1.14pm UK time.
Ahead of the launch, the agency tweeted that the weather is looking good so far with more updates to come.
Josef Aschbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency, wished all the teams involved in the mission good luck.
He tweeted: “We have waited many years for ESAJuice and we will wait another eight before it reaches Jupiter.
“But the 24 hours between launch attempt 1 and launch attempt 2 feels like an eternity.
‘Good luck to all teams today, we wish great weather for a healthy start.’
After launch, Juice is expected to separate from the rocket about half an hour later and embark on a 4.1 billion mile journey that will take more than eight years.
Juice has 10 instruments on board that will study whether the gas giant’s three moons – Callisto, Europa and Ganymede – can support life in its oceans.
Scientists at Imperial College London have led the development of an instrument known as a magnetometer.
Called J-MAG, it will measure the properties of the magnetic fields of Jupiter and Ganymede – the only moon known to produce its own magnetic field.
Engineers and mission leaders have a very short launch window — about a second — to launch the spacecraft on its journey.
This is because Venus and Earth must be in the perfect position for Juice to perform a maneuver known as gravitational assist, where it uses the planets’ gravity to hurl toward Jupiter.
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