Babbage: Hunting for life elsewhere—part two, JUICE

This week, the European Space Agency is expected to launch a spacecraft towards Jupiter and three of its icy moons—Ganymede, Europa and Callisto. The JUICE mission will carry ten instruments to the outer solar system and will hunt for water, a heat source and organic material—the ingredients that scientists think are needed for life. It is hoped the results that come from JUICE, and a similar NASA mission, Europa Clipper, will give us scientists a clearer view of whether life exists beyond planet Earth. 

Tim Cross, The Economist’s deputy science editor, explains why missions to the Jovian system represent a shift away from Mars, to hunt for extraterrestrial life. Plus, Jason Hosken, our producer, visits Imperial College London to find out how the JUICE magnetometer works, with engineers Patrick Brown and Richard Baughen. He also asks Michele Dougherty, the instrument’s principal investigator, about the mission’s scientific aims. Alok Jha, The Economist’s science and technology editor, hosts.

This is the second episode on the grand scientific quest to search for life beyond Earth. Last week, we asked exoplanet hunter and Nobel laureate, Didier Queloz, how to start answering one of the universe’s most intriguing questions. Listen at or on your podcast app.

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