Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun and the largest in the solar system. Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun and the largest in the solar system. Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun and the largest in the solar system. (Photo: Vadim Sadovski / Shutterstock)

Historic new mission sets out to find life on Jupiter

The journey, led by an international team of scientists, will last nearly a decade.

Hello, Jupiter. Is anybody home?

Is Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, home to any living beings? Thanks to a collaboration between the European Space Agency, the University of Rome and the Weizmann Institute of Israel, we may soon find out.

Well, soon might be an overstatement. The international research team hopes to launch their mission to Jupiter in 2022, and the journey will take nearly a decade to complete. Their goal is to explore the biggest of the 67 moons that surround Jupiter, some of which may contain underground oceans. Because where there's water, there might be life forms. It's all part of the JUICE project which stands for the JUpiter ICy satellite Explorer. Catchy, huh?

The team has hired the Israeli company Accubeat, which specializes in atomic clock technology, to create the world’s most accurate Ultra Stable Quartz Oscillator. That tool will be brought on the spacecraft and can determine if something is moving on any of Jupiter's moons. The effort is being coordinated by Dr. Yohai Kaspi of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

Jupiter is the latest in a line of interstellar planets and moons that humans are hoping to discover. After Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to walk on the moon, we've gone decades without much in the way of new space exploration. But since the dawn of the 21st century, and in the past few years in particular, there's been a renewed fascination with life on other planets.

NASA is hard at work on a mission to Mars. They've been building robots to help construct habitats that will eventually host humans on the Red Planet. To help them with their Mars mission, the U.S. space agency has entered into a partnership with Israel, the same country that hosted an international space conference in October, where Mars was a hot topic.

"It is in our DNA, our makeup as human beings, to have a curiosity to expand our knowledge and to explore beyond the present limits," Aldrin told From The Grapevine. "It is an inevitable mark of progress."


Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows

Related Topics: Space