The European Space Agency is preparing a mission to explore Jupiter and its moons.
JUICE will launch in 2022 in search of liquid water that could contain life. Europe is to mount a 1 billion-euro mission to Jupiter and its icy moons, moving ahead with an ambitious plan deemed too expensive by the United States. After more than eight years of review, the European Space Agency (ESA) has given the green light to a space program to explore the giant gas planet and several of its moons - in search of liquid oceans that may harbor life. Weighing in at just under five tons, the spacecraft will be one of the heaviest ever to launch to outer planets. It will also be the first solar-powered spacecraft to journey to Jupiter, using massive solar panels to capture enough faint sun rays to keep its instruments running.
JUICE beat out two other missions - the space-based New Gravitational-wave Observatory and an X-ray telescope called ATHENA – in part because it is expected to have fewer cost overruns and technical problems.
NASA dropped out -- The spacecraft was originally intended to fly in tandem with a NASA orbiter that would explore Jupiter's moon Europa, but the US space administration abandoned the plan after an independent planetary study warned the mission would be too costly.