Science & Technology

Juice mission launch delayed due to lightning risk, to be attempted on Friday

Madrid, Apr 13 (EFE).- The European space mission to Jupiter and its three large ocean-bearing moons could not take off on Thursday from the Kuru spaceport in French Guiana due to bad weather conditions, specifically due to the risk of lightning strikes.

The delay was announced around 10 minutes before launch when the last verification of weather data was carried out at the Kuru base, where the sky appeared to be completely overcast in photos released by the European Space Agency.

ESA said that the next target launch time was set at 9.14 am local time (12.14 GMT) on Friday, while the Ariane 5 rocket and the Juice probe remained in “stable and safe condition.”

The launch was scheduled for 12.15 GMT sharp on Thursday, unlike other space missions that often have a launch window spread over several hours.

The launch and the destination point have to be in perfect alignment to achieve the correct trajectory and save fuel, and therefore if the spacecraft cannot be launched on Friday, the takeoff can be attempted every day at a similar time until the end of this month.

Strong winds at high altitude – despite being within the permissible parameters – were another factor that may have affected the launch apart from the risk of lightning strikes.

ESA Director General Josef Ashchbacher tweeted from Kuru that Thursday’s development were “not what we hoped for, but this is part of the game,”

After its launch, Juice would travel eight years to reach the solar system’s biggest and most mysterious planet in July 2031, to kick off its scientific mission.

However, its path to Jupiter is far from straight, as the spacecraft would depend on the gravity of Earth, the Moon and Venus to give it the necessary momentum for its journey and save fuel.

The space probe, which is installed with 10 solar panels, will carry out its mission in a especially hostile environment with high radiation, extremely low temperatures, strong magnetic fields and scarce light.

Juice is equipped with 10 scientific instruments that will allow it to extensively explore Jupiter’s surroundings along with its large frozen moons Callisto, Europa and especially Ganymede, testing the possibility of these satellites housing large oceans of water and if they could be habitats for life.

In a mission spread over four years, the probe would orbit around Jupiter and carry out 35 flights to approach the frozen moons for a closer analysis.

Juice is designed to become the first spacecraft to orbit a moon other than the Earth’s, revolving around Ganymede between December 2034 and September 2035.

Once its fuel runs out, it is set to be dropped to Ganymede through a controlled fall. EFE


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