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Europe launches probe to Jupiter

Europe’s first mission to the Jovian system, will spend at least three years observing Jupiter’s icy moons, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.

The Ariane 5 L5120 took off from the European spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana

The JUICE automatic interplanetary station launched on April 14, 2023 at 08:14:29 ET (12:14:29 UTC, 09:14:29 Kourou) on an Ariane 5 carrier rocket n° L5120 of the 'European Spaceport Kourou', in French Guiana. The spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter in 2031 and spend two and a half years orbiting it, often flying between 200 and 1,000 kilometers from its icy moons. In this first phase of the mission, the solar-powered spacecraft will fly past Jovian moon Europa twice, and twelve times by Ganymede and Callisto each – allowing for repeatable and detailed studies in unprecedented detail. In the next and final phase of the mission, the spacecraft will orbit Ganymede, studying it closely for about nine months. This will be the first time a spacecraft has orbited any moon other than Earth's Luna

Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace, said: “Arianespace is honored to have been entrusted with this launch, the first European mission to Jupiter, and to play a part in expanding our understanding of the solar system and the necessary conditions for the emergence of life. In preparing for this mission, we have worked hand in hand with ESA, Airbus Defence and Space, ArianeGroup, and French space agency CNES. I take this opportunity to thank all the teams who have given so much for 10 years to bring us to today’s successful result. And good luck to JUICE for the incredible journey it is about to embark on!”

“With the successful launch of the JUICE space probe, Ariane 5 has once again made its contribution to European space history. This exceptional mission benefited twice over from ArianeGroup’s expertise: we not only built and prepared Ariane 5 for this mission, but we are also involved in the JUICE spacecraft as we developed, supplied, and tested the entire propulsion system which will enable the probe to make its eight-year journey to Jupiter. I want to thank the teams from ArianeGroup and Arianespace, together with all our European partners, for this latest success of the Ariane launcher. Our launcher’s high reliability is due to the unfailing cooperation between the industry, ESA, and CNES, the guarantee of Europe’s independent access to space,” said Martin Sion, CEO of ArianeGroup.

The propulsion system for the JUICE spacecraft was developed, built, and integrated in Germany by ArianeGroup’s Orbital Propulsion teams, and comprises the 400 N main engine to be used for Jupiter orbit injection, 20 small thrusters, and two titanium propellant tanks.

After this mission, one Ariane 5 launch remains before Ariane 6 takes up the baton, supporting Europe’s institutional missions and meeting the rapidly growing needs of the commercial market.

An eight-year journey to Jupiter