Spacecraft to Jupiter

spacecraft to jupiter

Most spacecraft traveling to Jupiter travel on long looping routes through the solar system, passing close by multiple planets (and sometimes moons) to gain momentum and build speed – this process is known as gravity assist.

NASA’s Galileo probe used this approach to explore Jupiter, uncover its magnetic field and radiation belt structures, hint at an underground ocean on Europa and more.


Galileo is a global navigation satellite system launched into service by ESA on behalf of the European Union in 2016. EUSPA handles operations and maintenance.

Galileo’s first generation satellites are built to offer a broad spectrum of services for commercial, industrial, and public use – including open free-of-charge High Accuracy Search and Rescue services that deliver precise location accuracy down to 20 cm or better, helping save lives.

Other features of Galileo satellites include increased effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP), improved performance in bad weather and inter-satellite links. Furthermore, Galileo satellites broadcast integrity data so users can verify whether their Galileo signal is functioning as expected through C-band antennae that receive signals containing mission data from Galileo Uplink Stations.


Kim Steadman, an engineer on Cassini for 14 years, attributes one of its successful outcomes to redundancy: should one of its reaction wheels or thrusters fail, having backup would enable data to still be collected from it.

Edgington notes that this mission’s discoveries of complex hydrocarbons on Titan and possible methane-producing hydrothermal vents on Enceladus “have altered our notion of what a habitable world might resemble,” along with evidence for methane production from hydrothermal vents on Enceladus “have significantly shifted our paradigm about what a habitable world might look like,” adding that Saturn’s rings consist of chunks of ice and rock ranging in size from particles of sand up to larger “propeller moonlets that create gaps through them all.

Cassini’s main body is composed of a cylindrical stack of equipment modules connected by cables, topped by the high-gain antenna. It carries both remote sensing pallets and fields and particles pallets containing instruments for studying magnetic fields, charged particles, plasma waves and related phenomena.


Voyager probes made immense scientific strides during their grand tours of Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune. They provided new images of Jupiter’s moons and Great Red Spot; Saturn’s rings (including rings of rings); the composition of planet gases; magnetotails of Jovian giants such as Tethys’ tectonically disrupted surface; and Dione’s trailing hemisphere’s “wispy terrain.”

The Voyagers also carry with them an interstellar greeting for any extraterrestrial civilization they might come across on 12-inch gold-plated copper disks, created by Cornell University professor Carl Sagan’s team. These messages contain 115 images and natural sounds collected by this team as well as musical selections and greetings in many languages compiled by Carl. Their trajectories led them out into space beyond our solar system’s outer edge where they passed beyond termination shock at 94 AU to enter interstellar space for good.

New Horizons

New Horizons was conceived to study the Kuiper Belt, which holds evidence of planet formation early in our Solar System’s formation process. Equipped with seven science instruments to survey Pluto’s surface and interior as well as look for atmospheres around other Kuiper Belt objects like Arrokoth, New Horizons will conduct a flyby of Jupiter before concluding its mission.

On its journey towards Pluto, New Horizons will use Jupiter gravity assist and flybys as test cases to optimize its instruments and navigation system prior to commencing its long trek through space. After passing within 50 astronomical units of Pluto for an unprecedented look at our solar system’s outer edge.

The spacecraft utilizes two redundant Integrated Electronics Modules that control command processing, timekeeping and instrument data handling functions. They share a PCI backplan.


The JUICE mission will explore Jupiter and its three planet-sized moons – Ganymede, Europa and Callisto – with a particular emphasis on Ganymede’s liquid oceans beneath their icy crusts that could contain organic components or even life forms.

Airbus Defence & Space’s spacecraft takes the form of a bird with solar panel wings on either side, producing power that allows mission instruments to function during flybys and orbital manoeuvres.

A 2.5 meter high gain antenna will serve as the telemetry/telecommand link between Earth and Jupiter for operations, downlinking science data to Earth, as well as downlinking radio waves from Jupiter into spacecraft battery modules that are specifically designed to withstand its intense radiation environment of up to 1,000 times more intensity than Earth radiation levels.

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