Jupiter JUICE’s European explorer misses one-second launch window due to lightning risk
European explorer Jupiter will wait at least one more day for launch.
Europe’s JUICE mission missed its first launch window by a second on Thursday (April 13) due to bad weather at Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Launch provider Arianespace will attempt to launch again on Friday, April 14 at 8:14 a.m. EDT (12:14 p.m. GMT) and you can watch the attempt live here on Space.com.
Arianespace interrupted the pre-launch sequence about ten minutes before takeoff, scheduled for 8:15 a.m. EDT (12:15 p.m. GMT), due to a risk of lightning at the launch site. The company added in a tweet (opens in a new tab)that the rocket and its passenger, the European Space Agency (ESA) Explorer of the icy moons of Jupiter (JUICE), are in a “safe and stable condition”.
“It’s part of our job and what’s important is that for takeoff, you have to make sure that all the parameters are green,” said Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israel in a livestream. ESA. “Launcher was fine, JUICE was fine, but last weather checks weren’t ok. You have two weather reasons for not launching – high altitude winds and risk of lightning. High altitude winds were ok , but there was a risk of lightning.”
Related: European explorer Jupiter Icy Moons is unlikely to find life. Here’s why.
The launch of JUICE is somewhat special because the spacecraft needs the rocket to insert it into a very precise orbit around the sun which will bring the mission back to Earth for a unique gravity-assist maneuver next year. This gravitational assistance will take advantage, for the first time in the history of spaceflight, of the gravity of Earth and its moon at the same time, to push JUICE on a path towards Jupiter. For this reason, the mission only had a one-second launch window today to take off. But luckily, another one-second launch window will open on Friday and there will be more opportunities every day until the end of this month.
“We will be back tomorrow morning, aiming for a takeoff one minute earlier than today,” Israel said.
JUICE is the first European mission to the Jupiter system, which aims to explore the The gas giant the three main moons of the planet: Ganymede, Callisto And Europe. The spaceship will take eight years to reach its destination, making additional overflights at Venus And Earth launch outward solar system where Jupiter resides.
JUICE’s primary science target is Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, the largest moon in the solar system, and if all goes well, the probe will enter orbit directly around Ganymede three years after arriving on Jupiter. In doing so, JUICE will become the first spacecraft in history to orbit a moon other than Earth’s.
JUICE will soar into space on top of Europe’s proven Ariane 5 rocketwhich launched in December 2021 the famous James Webb Space Telescope. This launch was praised by Arianespace because it was executed so precisely that the telescope did not need to use its own fuel to correct its course to reach its destination. Saving fuel on his trip means Webb will be able to run longer than originally planned.
The launch of JUICE will be the penultimate liftoff of Ariane 5, which will retire later this year after 30 years of service to be replaced by The new European Ariane 6 booster. This launcher is still awaiting its first launch later this year.
JUICE will orbit Jupiter at the same time as NASA’s Europa Clipper mission. Together, the two spacecraft will try to find out if the conditions for life could exist on Jupiter’s ice-covered moons, which are said to harbor vast underground oceans of liquid water.
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