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ESA’s JUICE mission clicks first photo of Jupiter and its moons even before its launch

The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) will launch in 2022 on a seven-year journey to the Jupiter system. Before its launch, the mission's navigation camera (NavCam) has given the first glimpse of its destination while still on Earth.

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |
September 3, 2019 6:51:17 pm
ESA JUICE mission, European Space Agency ESA, Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer JUICE, JUICE NavCam, NavCam images of Jupiter The JUICE mission by the European Space Agency (ESA) will be launched in 2022. (Image: Getty/Thinkstock)

The European Space Agency (ESA) will be launching its Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) in 2022 and though we are around three years away from its official launch, JUICE has captured an image of Jupiter and its four largest moons. The photograph was taken by a team of engineers on the roof of the Airbus Defence and Space site in Toulouse.

The exercise was a part of a test of JUICE’s navigation camera (NavCam). Its purpose was to validate the hardware and software interfaces and for the preparation of the image processing and onboard navigation software which will be used in-flight for acquiring the images. According to ESA, the NavCam has been specifically designed to be resistant to the harsh radiations environment around Jupiter and to acquire images of the planet, moon and background stars.

Most importantly, the NavCam measurements will be allowing the spacecraft to be in its optimal trajectory and consume as little fuel as possible during its tour of Jupiter and to improve the pointing accuracy during these fast and close approaches. These close encounters are going to bring the spacecraft between about 200-400 km to the moons, the ESA said in a statement.

ESA JUICE mission, European Space Agency ESA, Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer JUICE, JUICE NavCam, NavCam images of Jupiter The Navigation Camera (NavCam) of the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) has been given its first glimpse of the mission’s destination while still on Earth. (Image source: ESA/Airbus Defence and Space)

JUICE’s mission is to orbit planet Jupiter and perform repeated flybys of its moons namely Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa, which that have oceans. In the last phase of its mission, JUICE will be settling into the orbit around Ganymede, which is the largest moon of the solar system, in 2032. It will continue to remain in the orbit until 2034 when the mission control will order it to make a controlled impact on Ganymede, New Atlas reported.

Also Read | Did a planet whack Jupiter and get swallowed?

The test navigation camera will be further improved with flight optics, which will be used for testing the software as well as how well the camera works in the completed probe.

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