The European space probe Mars Express has been orbiting our red neighbor since 2003. In nearly 20 years, the probe has acquired valuable information about Mars. In addition to observing the red planet, the small probe is taking advantage of the last months of its mission (which should end in early 2023) to admire the landscape.
Last February the probe notably filmed an eclipse of Deimos (the moon of Mars) on Jupiter. An unprecedented event that has just been published by ESA. In total, nearly 80 images have been condensed in this video.
It’s fascinating how Jupiter appears in the video as just a point of light in the distance. Around the largest of the planets in the solar system, the few “stars” are actually the moons of the gas giant. Europa, Ganymede or even Io are thus visible on the short extract from the ESA.
JUICE: the future of European space exploration
This video also allows ESA to talk about the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, a probe that will visit the planet in a few years. The device is expected to leave Earth in August 2023 and join the gas giant in 2031.
This is the first time that the European Space Agency has ventured so far during a space mission. With its mass of 5 tons, the probe must answer many scientific questions, in particular around the presence (or not) of life in the subglacial oceans of the moons of Jupiter.
An in-depth study of Ganymede is also planned. In 2032 the probe should be placed in orbit around this moon. The mission will last 11 months.
The moons of Jupiter: the other house of the solar system
This region of our solar system has been very popular among scientists for a few years. The moons of Jupiter, but also of Saturn, are indeed ideal candidates for harboring life. Many of these natural satellites have water, either liquid or in the form of ice.
Long seen as a very rare element in the Universe, water is actually present almost everywhere. In the solar system, the Moon, but also Mars, have the right to a few blocks of ice. Much more abundantly, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn have oceans and ice caps.
A presence of water which necessarily questions the presence, or not, of life on these moons. In order to pierce the last mysteries of Europe, Enceladus and other Ganymedes, the best thing is to observe them closely. In addition to the European mission, NASA should also take the direction of Jupiter and its surroundings.
With the Lucy probe, the American space agency will turn to the Trojan asteroids, very old solar system bodies that could give us more information on the living conditions in the early hours of our Sun. It is also possible to help NASA in the preparation of this mission on October 23rd.