ESA’s going to Jupiter

The European Space Agency’s next large mission will be JUICE, a probe to study Jupiter’s icy moons. People who study other areas of astrophysics (like me) are disappointed that ESA didn’t choose a mission to the stuff we’re terribly excited about. In particular, some people are very disappointed that the X-ray observatory ATHENA lost out.

I don’t really know what should have happened, but this blog post (which I learned about from Peter Coles, by the way) does a pretty good job of explaining why JUICE is interesting.

The most striking thing to me is the extremely long time scale. JUICE isn’t scheduled to get to Jupiter until the 2030s. I know it’s sometimes necessary to plan way in advance, but it does seem like a big gamble to devote a bunch of resources to something that far off. How certain are we that the questions that seem interesting now will still seem interesting then?

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Ted Bunn

I am chair of the physics department at the University of Richmond. In addition to teaching a variety of undergraduate physics courses, I work on a variety of research projects in cosmology, the study of the origin, structure, and evolution of the Universe. University of Richmond undergraduates are involved in all aspects of this research. If you want to know more about my research, ask me!