IIn April 2023, ESA's JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE) spacecraft will launch to the Jupiter system. The DLR Institute of Planetary Research is playing a key role in the mission with the Ganymede Laser Altimeter (GALA) and the JANUS camera. The launch preparations are now fully under way. With the successful completion of GALA's tests on the spacecraft, the team can look back on an intensive project phase and is now eagerly awaiting the launch.
What is our goal?
Jupiter's Galilean moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, orbit Jupiter in slightly elliptical orbits lasting between 42 hours (Io) and just under 17 days (Callisto). They are comparatively close to the giant planet, which means that enormous tidal forces are exerted on the moons by Jupiter during their orbits. These forces are particularly strong on the inner moons Io and Europa, but they are also clearly detectable further out on Ganymede and Callisto. These forces lead to a periodic deformation of the surface, which can be detected with suitable instruments. This is exactly what GALA will do for Ganymede, the largest moon in the Solar System. read more