The case for JUICE
Here’s a nice blog peace giving the case for JUICE (The Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer recently selected by the European Space Agency for its next L-class mission).
Originally posted on Well-Bred Insolence:
There’s been a lot of chatter in astronomy circles about the negative consequences of ESA’s latest L-class (i.e. large) space mission selection. JUICE (The JUpiter Icy moon Explorer) was selected over two rival missions – the New Gravitational wave Observatory (NGO), and the Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics (ATHENA). In the current age of global austerity, one group’s win is several groups’ losses, and understandably the X-Ray and gravitational wave communities are upset at the choice. Indeed, reading the comments section on astro blogs might make planetary scientists go a little pale. Not least the fact that ATHENA supporters have already delivered a 1450 signature petition demanding a rethink. The fact that the decision making process has been somewhat cloudy doesn’t help matters.
It does indeed suck that this is a zero-sum game (in fact, probably negative-sum). Sadly, from my view it looks like the ire surrounding JUICE would have been stoked and pointed at whoever won this contest. After all, astronomers have begun crying foul so loudly out of a justified fear for their own fields. Without ATHENA, X-Ray astronomy (a necessarily space-based pursuit) will struggle in the coming years. NGO was also a great white hope for the gravitational wave community, it being the survivor of LISA, a similar observatory which fizzled after NASA pulled out.
I’m not here to point the finger, or begin arguments. I just want to mention that while JUICE might not be good for everyone, it is good for many other people.