Science missions to Jupiter
A proposed Jupiter System Mission is expected to be part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Cosmic Vision programme
and could provide orbiters around two of Jupiter's moons. The mission may include study of the icy moons Europa and Ganymede as special worlds that can lead to a broader understanding of the Jovian system and of the possibility of life in our solar system and beyond. They are natural laboratories for analysing the nature, evolution and potential habitability of icy worlds, because they are believed to present two different kinds of sub-surface oceans.
The key science goal is the study of the emergence of habitable worlds around gas giants. It will look to answer such questions as: What were the conditions for the formation of the Jupiter system? How does Jupiter work? Is Europa habitable? There may be liquid water oceans under the icy crusts of Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. ESO is currently considering its options for 'L class', larger missions of which a mission to Jupiter and its moons may well be a part.
Support for any UK involvement in a Jupiter system mission would be funded by the UK Space Agency
(UKSA), which is an executive agency of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). UKSA works with STFC which would be responsible for funding researchers to exploit the scientific data yielded by this mission.
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ESA's Jupiter Ganymede Orbiter will characterize Ganymede as a planetary object.