Jupiter and Ganymede | NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
The Israel Space Agency joined the European Space Agency’s flagship project - JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) at the beginning of 2014. Recently, on November 20th, the project proceeded to the next level, after the European Space Agency’s Science Program Committee authorized the legal framework in which the various space agencies engaged in the project are to be funded.
The JUICE Explorer is scheduled to be launched in 2022 and to reach Jupiter and its moons by 2030. The 3-year scientific mission will observe and study the largest of the solar system’s planets and its three moons, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. The explorer is scheduled to study Jupiter’s special atmosphere, to measure the magnetosphere (the cavity created by the planet’s magnetic field) and to research the gravitation field of Jupiter and its 3 Galileo moons. Moreover, the explorer will study the structure of the icy layers on Ganymede (the largest of the moons in the entire solar system) and Europa, and the characteristics of the ocean layers beneath their icy surfaces.
The explorer will weigh almost 2 tons and carry nuclear reactor for its powering, in addition to about 100-kilograms of scientific payload to be provided by the various space agencies, who are respectively responsible for conducting each of the eleven researches, which are planned to take place within the JUICE Scientific Mission. This scientific payload includes cameras, spectrometers (an apparatus that produces a spectrum for measuring wavelength), radar, altimeter, and various types of detectors.
The Israeli contribution to the scientific payload is an Ultra Stable Quartz Oscillator (USO) that exhibits outstanding short term stability of parts per 1013 for averaging times of 1s to 1000s, which together with a one-way space to ground radio link in X and Ka band, to be provided by ASI, will provide for investigating the structure of the neutral atmospheres and ionospheres of Jupiter and its moons as part of the radio science experiment (3GM research), which will be carried out by ASI.
Accubeat Ltd. An Israeli company who is specialized in the field of atomic clocks is developing the USO. A team of Israeli researchers headed by Dr. Kaspi from the Weizmann Scientific Institute joined the Italian Scientific Team headed by prof. Luciano Ies. The Israeli researchers will assist in planning the orbits along which the explorer will surround the planet and its three moons such that the occultation experiments will be televised. Moreover they will take part in planning these measurements, and will be exposed to the results of these measurements before they will become public.