The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) spacecraft recently arrived in French Guiana for its upcoming launch, which is currently set for April 13, 2023. JUICE is currently undergoing launch preparations in the Payload Preparation Facility at the Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG) in Kourou, French Guiana, and will soon be mounted atop the upper stage of the Ariane 5 rocket it will ride into orbit.
While the launch of JUICE will certainly be an exciting and critical event in the mission timeline, what occurs after the launch is, perhaps, some of the most important events of the mission. Following the launch, JUICE will spend eight years traveling through the inner solar system, performing four gravity assists to raise its aphelion (the farthest point from the Sun in its orbit) to Jupiter’s orbital plane. What’s more, when at Jupiter itself, JUICE will perform several flybys of three Jovian icy moons — Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa — to uncover the secrets of these potentially habitable celestial bodies.
With JUICE’s launch and the start of the spacecraft’s eight-year coast phase quickly approaching, NASASpaceflight sat down with Cyril Cavel, JUICE project manager of Airbus Defence and Space, to learn more about the upcoming mission, its eight-year coast phase, and the science it will gather when at Jupiter.