Date: April 13, 2023
The European Space Agency (ESA) announced that the launch of its JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) mission has been postponed due to unfavorable weather conditions. Initially scheduled to lift off on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, the mission faced a delay as a result of lightning risk in the area .
JUICE is the first large-class mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 program and aims to make detailed observations of the gas giant Jupiter and three of its largest moons – Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa . The spacecraft will carry a suite of remote sensing, geophysical, and in situ instruments to study these celestial bodies as both planetary objects and potential habitats .
Weighing approximately 4,800 kilograms (10,600 pounds), JUICE is a heavy spacecraft, carrying almost 3,000 kilograms (6,600 pounds) of fuel to execute complex trajectories needed for close observation of Jupiter’s icy moons . The spacecraft is equipped with 10 state-of-the-art instruments, with a combined weight of 104 kilograms (230 pounds) .
The JUICE mission, initially planned for launch in 2022 and arrival at Jupiter in 2029, has already undergone a major review, with the project team declaring it “go for launch” . This mission marks a significant milestone for the European Space Agency, as it is the first space mission to a remote planet in our solar system without ESA acting as a passenger .
The new launch date for the JUICE mission has not yet been announced. However, the postponement due to weather conditions highlights the challenges faced by space exploration missions and the importance of ensuring the safety and success of such ambitious endeavors.