JUICE will communicate with Earth with Antwerp Space technology

Antwerp, 13 April 2023 – European Space Agency will be launching Juice to observe Jupiter and its three large ocean-bearing moons

The JUICE mission is the first large-scale mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 program. JUICE will spend three-and-a-half years examining Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere, enormous magnetosphere, set of tenuous dark rings and satellites. It will study the large icy moons Ganymede, Europa and Callisto, which are thought to have oceans of liquid water beneath their frozen crusts – perhaps even harboring habitable environments. The mission will culminate in an eight-month tour around Ganymede and end with the probe’s planned impact on the moon’s surface in 2034. It will be the first spacecraft to orbit a moon other than our own – Jupiter’s largest moon Ganymede. En route to Jupiter, it is expected to perform the first-ever lunar-Earth gravity assist, a maneuver aiming to save fuel.

Antwerp Space has carried out the complex development of the Communication Subsystem on behalf of the main contractor, Airbus Defence and Space. The Communication Subsystem will communicate with Earth during the eight-year mission journey and the four-year science phase. “This subsystem is an advanced RF assembly of 30 units and components, 20 m of coaxial cable and 30 m of the waveguide. It enables telecommand and housekeeping telemetry at X-band, scientific data download at Ka-band, one- and two-way ranging at X- and Ka-band and radio science experiments at Ka-band. The Communication Subsystem has been designed for the stringent requirements and harsh environment of the JUICE mission, optimized, analyzed, integrated and successfully tested by the Antwerp Space engineering team for four years.” says Hugues Vasseur, the Lead Engineer of Antwerp Space’s team.

Developing a communication subsystem for a mission such as JUICE requires strong space engineering knowledge and heritage. This system will enable communication on an average distance between Earth and Jupiter of approximately 800 million kilometers and needs to survive the extreme environmental conditions around Jupiter. The intense radiation around the planet and its moons can potentially destroy any piece of technology developed on Earth if not protected properly.

“I am very proud of the JUICE team and would like to thank Airbus Defence and Space and ESA for the valued and close collaboration. Once again, Antwerp Space has successfully demonstrated its capability to take full end-responsibility in the design of such a complex system,” says Koen Puimège, Managing Director of Antwerp Space.