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.
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.
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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.