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Europe chooses Jupiter for space mission

May 2, 2012 at 7:10 PM   |   Comments

PARIS, May 2 (UPI) -- The European Space Agency says it has chosen a mission to Jupiter's icy moons as its next large showcase space effort.

The Jupiter Icy moons Explorer -- JUICE -- was selected over two other candidates: NGO, the New Gravitational wave Observatory to hunt for gravitational waves, and ATHENA, the Advanced Telescope for High-Energy Astrophysics, a release from ESA's Paris headquarters said Wednesday.

JUICE will be launched in 2022 from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on an Ariane 5 rocket and will arrive at Jupiter in 2030 to spend at least three years making detailed observations, the agency said.

The mission will study four moons of Jupiter: volcanic Io, icy Europa and rock-ice Ganymede and Callisto, researchers said.

"Jupiter is the archetype for the giant planets of the Solar System and for many giant planets being found around other stars," Alvaro Gimenez Canete, ESA's Director of Science and Robotic Exploration, said.

"JUICE will give us better insight into how gas giants and their orbiting worlds form, and their potential for hosting life."
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