To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Much-anticipated JUICE space mission in search of alien life has launched

Much-anticipated JUICE space mission in search of alien life has launched

The European Space Agency's JUICE mission to the moons of Jupiter successfully launched earlier today

The much-anticipated launch of the European Space Agency’s JUICE mission to the moons of Jupiter has taken place, a day behind schedule after a weather postponement.

Here's the moment that it blasted off to the largest planet in our solar system:

The JUICE mission – which stands for Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer – finally managed to get off the floor today without a hitch, taking off from the ESA’s spaceport in French Guiana.

The large six-tonne probe was actually supposed to start off the long journey to Jupiter yesterday, but there was a threat of lightning in the air, which led to the postponement until today.

Before it was launched, Arianespace – the company that developed the Ariane 5 rocket that is carrying JUICE – said that conditions were set fair, but were being monitored.

The director general of the ESA Josef Aschbacher also tweeted before the launch to wish everyone involved in it the best of luck.

He said: "We have waited for many years for #ESAJuice, and we will wait another eight before it reaches Jupiter.

It might have been late, but ultimately JUICE was a success.

"But the 24 hours between launch attempt 1 and launch attempt 2 feels like an eternity. Good luck to all the teams today, wishing us great weather for a healthy launch."

In the end, he got his wish, with the stages of launch being ticked off safely, including the separation of the module from the rocket and the solar array deployment.

So, now it’s next stop Jupiter for the JUICE module.

In a further statement, Aschbacher said: “ESA, with its international partners, is on its way to Jupiter.

"Juice’s spectacular launch carries with it the vision and ambition of those who conceived the mission decades ago, the skill and passion of everyone who has built this incredible machine, the drive of our flight operations team, and the curiosity of the global science community.

“Together, we will keep pushing the boundaries of science and exploration in order to answer humankind’s biggest questions.”

Those questions include whether life could have – or perhaps does – exist on three of the many moons of Jupiter, namely Callisto, Ganymede and Europa.

JUICE is now on a long journey to Jupiter.
Sky News

The three are covered in ice, but are thought to have large underground oceans underneath that could harbour sea life.

However, ESA project scientist Olivier Witasse clarified: “We are not going to detect life with JUICE”

They might learn some things about whether these environments could sustain life, though.

Witasse added: “That will really be the most interesting aspect of the mission.”

After that, JUICE will go into orbit around Ganymede.

No spacecraft has ever orbited another moon other than the one we see from Earth each night.

We’ll have to wait a long time before we get anything meaningful back, however, as the mission is not expected to reach Jupiter until 2031.

Well, it is a long way.

Featured Image Credit: European Space Agency / ESA / Alamy / dotted zebra

Topics: World News, Space, Science