Take a look at our missions to Jupiter in context. The image below shows the history back to 1973, with the launch of Pioneer 10, and of course, the Voyager encounters. We also have the flybys by Ulysses, Cassini and New Horizons, each designed for other destinations, for Jupiter offers that highly useful gravitational assist to help us get places fast. JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) joins the orbiter side of the image tomorrow, with launch aboard an Ariane 5 from Kourou (French Guiana) scheduled for 1215 UTC (0815 EDT) on Thursday. You can follow the launch live here or here.
The first gravitational maneuver will be in August of next year with a Lunar-Earth flyby, followed by Venus in 2025 and then two more Earth flybys (2026 and 2029) before arrival at Jupiter in July of 2031. I’ve written a good deal about both Europa Clipper and JUICE in these pages and won’t go back to repeat the details, but we can expect 35 icy moon flybys past Europa, Ganymede and Callisto before insertion into orbit at Ganymede, making JUICE the first mission that will go into orbit around a satellite of another planet. Needless to say, we’ll track JUICE closely in these pages.
Image: Ariane 5 VA 260 with JUICE, start of rollout on Tuesday 11 April. Credit for this and the above infographic: ESA.