Case study

Jupiter icy moon explorer (JUICE)

A mission to make detailed observations of the giant gaseous planet Jupiter and three of its largest moons, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa.

Image of the JUICE mission
Arttist's concept of the Jupiter icy moon explorer mission. Credit: ESA.


JUICE will study of the emergence of habitable worlds around gas giant planets. There may be liquid water oceans under the icy crusts of Europa, Ganymede and Callisto; this is the key criterion for habitable worlds. JUICE will carry out an in-depth study of Europa and the Jupiter system, and will carry instruments to monitor dynamic phenomena (volcanoes, atmospheric changes), map the magnetospheres and find out about the water oceans beneath the ice shells. JUICE is:

  • due for launch in 2022, arriving at Jupiter in 2030
  • the first large-class mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 programme
  • the payloads were selected in February 2013
  • provisional mission launch date is 2022
  • the mission lifetime consists of a 7-8 year cruise, arriving at Jupiter in 2030 and 3.5 years in orbit

It will look to answer such questions as: What have been the conditions for the formation of the Jupiter system? How does Jupiter work? Is Europa habitable?

For detailed information, please see the JUICE page on the ESA website.

Mission facts

  • JUICE will use one robotic orbiter to study three of the largest moons around Jupiter discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610; Europa, Callisto and Ganymede
  • special emphasis will be placed on studying Europa’s habitability in the global context of the Jupiter system
  • The spacecraft will eventually come into orbit around Ganymede where it will spend approximately 280 days circling the satellite

UK involvement

The UK Space Agency provided initial study phase funding for four UK candidate instrument teams led by Imperial College London, University of Oxford, UCL-MSSL, and Leicester University.

The Magnetometer (J-MAG), led by Prof Michele Dougherty from Imperial College London, has now been selected to fly on the JUICE mission.

JMAG will measure the magnetic fields of Jupiter and its moons to gain an understanding of their internal structures and physical processes, and in particular, to confirm the existence of a sub-surface ocean on Ganymede.

Hardware for JMAG will be provided by Imperial College London’s Space Magnetometer Laboratory which has been involved in many other space missions such as Cassini, Venus Express, Cluster and Solar Orbiter.

The UK space Agency is also funding UK co-investigators to contribute to the Swedish-led Particle Environment Package and the Italian JANUS camera, to maximise the eventual science return to the UK.

UK industry will play a key role in mission development. Industrial partners will be confirmed during mission definition.

Published 28 April 2014