Home of a tangerine storm larger than Earth, the master of peach winds so cold you’ll probably freeze upon impact, and the collector of 79 different moons, Jupiter is a spectacle. Its magnitude is also barely understood. Take every planet in our solar system, slap their mass together, multiply that by two and you get a part about the size of one.
Who knows what could happen there. Really.
This is why, in April 2023, the European Space Agency plans to send a space probe to joinIn studying the Jovian lifestyle. It is called Juice or Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer. “The JUS giant gas planet and its three large ocean-bearing moons – Ganymede, Callisto and Europa – will make detailed observations with remote sensing, geophysical and in situ instruments,” ESA said in an overview of the mission.
And on Monday, the agency also laid out five specific secrets it wants to tackle once, hopefully, 2031, once the Russ reaches its destination on this giant planet.
ESA’s first major question is obvious which you might have guessed from the full name of Rus: What’s up with Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa?
In short, these three moons are at the forefront of the agency’s effort because they are all suspected of having some sort of water on or beneath their surfaces. Europa, in particular, has been estimated by astrobiologists to contain a significant amount of H2O and, water, equivalent to the potential for alien life, which leads us to other questions about the juices.
Has there ever been life on any of Jupiter’s moons – or, I suppose, on Jupiter? In truth, probably not later, because there is neither land nor water on this planet. There is only gas and atmospheric water Vapor. Basically, if you tried to stand on Jupiter, you would fall until you were crushed by the immense gravity of the planet centered toward the center. That’s if you can get this far.
But returning to Europa, an icy world too much with solid ground, scientificWe may find evidence of extraterrestrial life. In fact, NASA is building a spacecraft dedicated to scanning Europa for such remains. It’s called Clipper, ,
Next, turning to Ganymede, is one of the wonders of ESA: Why is Ganymede the only moon in our solar system with its own magnetic field? This one is pretty weird. Ganymede’s magnetic field is so strong, in fact, that it even gives rise to auroras in its atmosphere, just as Earth’s magnetic field produces the northern lights when electrons are captured.
But for some unknown reason, the rest of its moon community can’t relate to its magnetic undertones. It’s an outsider in that way. “JUS’s visit to Jupiter will include several flybys of these ocean-bearing moons, before culminating in an orbit insertion around Ganymede – the first time a spacecraft will orbit the Moon in the outer Solar System,” ESA said.
In addition, while being a bit more general, ESA also wants to know how and how Jupiter’s complex space environment shaped the trajectories or positions of its moons. With 79 different satellites orbiting, this Jovian world basically has its own solar system—if Jupiter were the Sun, that is.
And finally, the fifth and final box ESA hopes to tick when dissecting Jupiter is how such giant balls of gas came into existence in the first place. Though tinged with colors on the cold end of the spectrum, Uranus, Neptune and Saturn are also wispy cradles of zippy molecules floating around our solar system. What will give rise to these extreme mini-universes?
If all goes well, we may have some answers by 2030.