European Juice mission launched from French Guiana

European Space Agency (ESA) has launched Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) last week on Apr 14. Did you know that  Europe’s Spaceport launch location is actually in Kourou, French Guiana near equator? Let’s find out a little bit more about the mission and this French oversee territory.

J u i c e mission is  supposed  to make detailed observations of Jupiter, the biggest planet  of our galaxy and specifically its three large ocean-bearing moons: Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. The plan is to  characterize these moons as both possible life habitats, as  well as planetary objects. ESA also wants to explore  Jupiter’s complex environment in depth and study the wider Jupiter system as an archetype for giant gas planets across the Universe. Juice is equipped with a suite of remote sensing, geophysical and in situ instruments to perform all of the necessary tasks. Its solar wings have 915 square feet and it contains in total 10 different instruments. It has already sent first photos back to Earth only couple of hours after the departure. The images are actually selfies - showing part of the spacecraft itself with  stunning Earth in the background. The explorer should reach Jupiter in July 2031.

The mission has launched from a small town named Kourou in French Guiana. French Guiana is located  in South America, bordered with Suriname to the West and Brazil to the East. The capital is Cayenne,  it’s inhabited by 301,000 people and it is the second largest region of France and the largest outermost region within the European Union. The forests in French Guiana actually cover 98.9% of the land territory! Large part of these are primeval rainforests.  

As Europe Space Agency’s primary launch site is within the Guiana Space Centre, large part of the country’s economy depends on jobs and business associated with the Space Centre. French Guiana is so the only continental mainland of either  North or South America that is under the sovereignty of a European state. 

If you decide to travel to this beautiful country, make sure to not only visit the Space Centre, but also Hattes beach which is the most important single nesting site in the world for giant leatherback turtles! If you’re a fan of monkeys, don’t miss Illet la Mère - little island inhabited only by the squirrel monkeys.  For a beach retreat pay a visit to Remire-Montjoly and for local foods and drinks stop by the Place Victor Schoelcher Market in the capital of Cayenne.

-DOMINIKA, Thanks for your contribution!

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