ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer (JUICE) is currently in the works to be launched to Jupiter and its system in the future – somewhere around 2022 on an Ariane 5 carrier rocket with arrival at Jupiter in 2030. The spacecraft will be focused on studying three of Jupiter’s moons – Ganymede, Callisto and Europa – with the aim to characterise these worlds, all believed to harbour bodies of liquid water beneath their surfaces and are currently thought to host potentially habitable environments.
It is planned that JUICE will enter into orbit around Ganymede in 2033 with proposed instruments such as cameras, spectrometers and radar to take measurements of the targets.
Other missions, which have been launched but have not reached their destination, are also set to explore the outer Solar System. NASA’s Jupiter-bound spacecraft Juno will arrive at the gas giant in 2016 where it hopes to search for clues about how Jupiter formed, investigate whether the planet has a rocky core, study the atmosphere and mass distribution and examine the planet’s winds.
Even further into the outer reaches of the Solar System, NASA’s New Horizons mission is currently making its way to dwarf planet Pluto with a planned arrival during July 2015. Here the mission will be the first spacecraft to study the demoted planet and its five moons, Charon, Hydra, Nix, S/2011 P1 and S/2012 P1.
Image courtesy of NASA