July 25, 2012
Russia Considering Cooperation In JUICE Jupiter Mission
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The Russian space agency is considering participating in a developing project to send a spacecraft to Jupiter.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is starting-up the Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer (JUICE) project, and Russian scientists are considering the possibility of participating, according to a Voice Of Russia report.
Lee Fletcher from JUICE´s Oxford University scientific group presented the objectives of the mission at the Scientific Assembly of the International Committee on Space Research in Mysore, India.
The JUICE mission is a reduced version of the EJSM project, which included two satellites: ESA's JGO meant for exploring Jupiter and Ganymede, and NASA's JEO, intended to explore Jupiter and Europa. Japan was expected to participate in the EJSM project as well to study Jupiter's magnetosphere.
Jupiter isn't frequently visited by spacecraft, despite it being the largest planet in the Solar System. Cassini passed by the planet on its way towards Saturn, while New Horizons passed by on its way to Pluto.
NASA's Juno spacecraft launched August 5, 2011 towards the giant gas planet, and it will take five years to complete its nearly 1,700 million mile journey.
Juno will be studying the deeper layers of the atmosphere, while the planned JUICE mission will focus on the upper layers.
The Voice Of Russia said that Russia is interested in the JUICE project because when the EJSM project was under development two years ago, Russian scientists suggested joining the program with their spacecraft aimed at landing on Europa.
JUICE's mission plans doesn't include a trip to Europa, so Russia is reviewing the plan of the mission and determining whether it should either send a spacecraft to conduct research on the spot, or send a mission to Ganymede, according to the report.
The next launch for the Russian planetary program is scheduled for 2014, which is a joint Russian-Indian Luna-Resource project that includes a Russian lander. The Russian Space Agency also has plans for about two scientific missions up to 2018, including a lunar spacecraft.
"The question is whether or not it is compatible with a flight to Jupiter," Olga Zakutnyaya for The Voice of Russia wrote.
"On the one hand, the international agencies´ practice shows that along with the smaller-scale missions, larger “flagship” projects are constantly being developed," Zakutnyaya said. "On the other hand, perhaps, it would be more prudent for Russia to choose a gradual recovery of the space industry accompanied by more frequent, but less complex launches, and consistent development of various systems."