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- Jupiter and its moons could be best hope of finding signs of alien life
- Jupiter icy moons explorer (Juice) will reach the Jovian system in 2030
- It will explore volcanic Io, Europa and rock-ice Ganymede and Callisto
- Juice will also take a look at Jupiter's atmosphere and magnetosphere
Astronomers claim Jupiter and its moons could provide the best hope of finding signs of alien life in our solar system.
Now, in an effort to explorer its distant oceans, the Jupiter icy moons explorer (Juice) mission has been given the green light to launch in 2022.
The five-tonne satellite will reach Jupiter in 2030 where it will use its suite of instruments to explore the planet's atmosphere, magnetosphere and tenuous set of rings.
Juice will also look at Jupiter's diverse Galilean moons - volcanic Io, icy Europa and rock-ice Ganymede and Callisto - which make the Jovian system a miniature solar system in its own right.
The focus will largely be on Ganymede, though, and will the first time any icy moon has been orbited by a spacecraft.
Earlier this year, scientists said Ganymede might have ice and oceans stacked up in several layers similar to a club sandwich.
Previously, the moon was thought to harbour a thick ocean sandwiched between just two layers of ice, one on top and one on bottom, but now it seems it has multiple layers.
Scientists claims that places where water and rock interact are important for the development of life. For example, it is possible life began on Earth in bubbling vents on our sea floor.
Prior to the new study, Ganymede's rocky sea bottom was thought to be coated with ice, not liquid - a problem for the emergence of life.
It will visit Callisto, the most heavily cratered object in the solar system, and will twice fly by Europa.
Juice is hoping to make the first measurements of the thickness of Europa's icy crust and will identify candidate sites for future in situ exploration.
The Galileo mission found strong evidence that a subsurface ocean of salty water is in contact with a rocky seafloor.
Source : Daily mail