The discovery of four large moons orbiting around Jupiter by Galileo Galilei four hundred years ago spurred the Copernican Revolution and forever changed our view of the Solar System and universe. Today, Jupiter is seen as the archetype for giant planets in our Solar System as well as for the numerous giant planets known to orbit other stars. In many respects, and in all their complexities, one may say that Jupiter and its diverse satellites form a mini-Solar System. By investigating this system, and thereby unravelling the history of its evolution, from initial formation of the planet to the development of its satellite system, we will gain a general understanding of how gas giant planets and their satellite systems form and evolve and of how our Solar System works.
The focus of JUICE is to characterise the conditions that may have led to the emergence of habitable environments among the Jovian icy satellites, with special emphasis on the three ocean-bearing worlds, Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto. Ganymede is identified for detailed investigation since it provides a natural laboratory for analysis of the nature, evolution and potential habitability of icy worlds in general, but also because of the role it plays within the system of Galilean satellites, and its unique magnetic and plasma interactions with the surrounding Jovian environment.
The mission will also focus on characterising the diversity of processes in the Jupiter system which may be required in order to provide a stable environment at Ganymede, Europa and Callisto on geologic time scales. Focused studies of Jupiter's atmosphere, and magnetosphere and their interaction with the Galilean satellites will further enhance our understanding of the evolution and dynamics of the Jovian system.
The astrobiology seminar series is run by the UK Centre for Astrobiology based in the School of Physics & Astronomy. Astrobiology is a multi-disciplinary subject and the seminar series actively encourages attendance by undergraduates, postgraduates and academic staff from other departments..