Space Agencies Go For Jupiter and Saturn


NASA and the European Space Agency have decided to go ahead with an ambitious plan to send a probe to Jupiter and its icy moon Europa. A further project would involve the two agencies to send a spacecraft to Saturn’s moon Titan.

David Southwood, ESA’s Director of Science says that the joint venture is a wonderful new challenge and it will be a milestone of 21 st century space exploration. The Jupiter mission has been chosen to start because it is the more realistic project.



Scientists have been dreaming of visiting Europa for a long time. The icy moon may have underground water and researchers want to find out if such a satellite may be fit for life. It is surely one of the places in the solar system where life might have evolved some time ago.

The project calls for NASA to send an orbiter to Europa and ESA to send one to Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. Both spacecraft would be launched in 2020, but from two separate launch sites. They would reach Jupiter by 2026 and examine the moons for the following three years. Although the two spacecraft would observe Europa from different positions only the NASA probe would spend time in Europa’s orbit.

The moon is said to have a strong radiation field and orbiting it would only be possible for a few months. NASA plans to use special equipment to protect its probe. The two probes would end their mission by crashing into the moons they are orbiting around.



British scientists and engineers will play key roles in the joint mission. A consortium is planning to prepare probes with instruments that would be dropped onto Europa’s surface. Thus, it could determine temperatures under the surface or locate magnetic and radiation fields.


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  • agency = organization
  • ambitious =if you want to do something that is difficult
  • challenge = something that is very difficult to do
  • consortium = a group of companies that work together on something
  • determine = to find out
  • evolve = to come up
  • examine = watch, observe, collect data from
  • exploration = travelling somewhere to find out a lot about it
  • fit = suitable
  • further = another here: a future
  • go ahead = to give the green light to start something
  • involve = to be a part of
  • joint venture = a mission with two or more partners
  • key role = important part
  • launch = start
  • milestone = highlight, goal
  • mission = project
  • observe = watch
  • orbit = to go around
  • orbiter = a spacecraft that goes round a planet or moon
  • probe = unmanned spacecraft with instruments on it
  • protect =to keep something or someone safe
  • radiation field = a form of energy that sends out waves that you cannot see
  • reach = get to
  • researcher = scientist
  • scientist =a person who is trained in science
  • special equipment = special instruments that are made for the mission
  • surface =the top layer of a planet
  • thus = as a result