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Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE)
- Country: Netherlands
- Start date: 2016
- Ending date: 2022
Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) is the most important mission of the ESA to explore the Jovian system, a program aimed at widening our knowledge of the complex interactions between Jupiter and its icy moons – Europa, Callisto and Ganymede.
This mission will be launched in 2022 on board an Ariane 5, which will take off from the European Spaceport in French Guyana and reach Jupiter in 2030, where it will remain for at least three years making observations.
The JUICE spacecraft will be transporting ten different instruments for the scientific study phase. These include the J-MAG and RPWI experiments, aimed at characterising magnetic and radio waves.
SENER developments in JUICE
SENER’s work consist of the design, manufacture, verification and integration of the magnetometer boom, the purpose of which is to place some of the instruments needed for scientific experiments away from the magnetic disturbances of the spacecraft. Specifically, SENER’s boom will protect five of the ten instruments carried by JUICE for the scientific study phase. These five instruments are required to perform two wave characterization experiments, one for magnetic waves, named J-MAG, and another for radio waves, named RPWI.
The boom consists of a 10.6-meter-long structure made of tubes of composite material reinforced with carbon fiber and composed by three segments that will remain stowed during launch. Once in orbit, the segments will be unfolded using a deployment mechanism and another for synchronization, for which SENER will also be responsible. The total length of the boom, the magnetic cleanliness requirements and the range of temperatures it will need to withstand (over 500 ºC) are just some of the technological challenges faced by SENER on this mission.
Medium-Gain Antenna Major Assembly (MGAMA)
SENER executes the entire Medium-Gain Antenna Major Assembly (MGAMA) that will back up the satellite’s main antenna (High-Gain Antenna, or HGA) in order to guarantee communication between JUICE and the Earth all times. The medium-gain antenna will also be tasked with analyzing, by means of a Radio-Frequency Experiment (RSE), the characteristics of each one of the celestial bodies it will visit in the course of the mission, the moons of Ganymede, Callisto and Europa and the planet Jupiter, as well as the gravitational characteristics and composition of their atmosphere. The medium-gain antenna to be executed by SENER comprises the antenna reflector, the pointing mechanism and the control electronics.
Simulating and Testing
SENER is responsible for simulation and testing of such extreme conditions. They will perform a FEM simulation (Finite Element Method) of the whole manipulator and create a Mechanical Ground Support Equipment for simulating zero-gravity conditions, which will be used for ﬁnal testing on Earth.
Main challenges faced by SENER in JUICE
Some of the main challenges faced by SENER in this commission include the extreme radiation conditions of Jupiter that will affect the antenna, as the device is located on the outside of the satellite. Moreover, the mission will have to contend with extreme temperatures since it will fly-by Venus in order to achieve the gravitational assistance needed to reach its final destination, which means that it will be subjected to both the high temperatures of Venus and the extreme cold environment of Jupiter.
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