ESA have announced that a mission to Jupiter’s moons will be the first Large-class mission in the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 programme. It will launch in 2022 and arrive at Jupiter in 2030.
JUICE (JUpter ICy moons Explorer; it’s yet another acronym) will be a great mission, but it comes at the expense of two other proposals that I discuss in New Eyes on the Universe. One, called NGO (New Gravitational wave Observatory) would hunt for gravitational waves. The other, called ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High-Energy Astrophysics), would have been a space-based X-ray observatory.
Both NGO and ATHENA were replacement missions for earlier proposals that didn’t proceed: LISA in the case of space-based gravitational wave observatories, and IXO (which was itself a merging of the XEUS and Constellation-X projects) in the case of space-based X-ray observatories.
It was a tortuous journey to get to NGO and ATHENA; given that they’ve missed this first chance of a launch makes me wonder when – if ever – they’ll launch.