JUICE just left for Jupiter, but there really is a problem

JUICE just left for Jupiter, but there really is a problem

Two weeks after being launched into space, JUICE is having a hard time. The Jupiter-oriented mission failed to properly deploy the 16-meter antenna. The European Space Agency is working on the problem.

The JUICE mission’s long journey to the icy moons of Jupiter has just begun. But just two weeks after the successful liftoff on April 14, 2023, trouble just hit. The European Space Agency (ESA) has advertisement This Friday, April 28, the probe’s antenna did not deploy as planned.

This 16-meter structure houses the RIME (“Radar for Icy Moon Reconnaissance”) instrument, a radar intended to retrieve valuable data. This is to learn more about the icy shell of many of Jupiter’s moons. The radar and antenna are supposed to allow the study of these surfaces to a depth of 9 km.

JUICE’s antenna is clogged, but with what?

Work is currently underway to resolve a blocking issue [l’antenne] to be released from its mounting bracket », summary The European Space Agency tweeted a situation update. Animation accompanies the post: We see the antenna obscured, but it can still move a bit – the ship is filming itself with its surveillance cameras. Pictures were taken Between 17th and 21st AprilWhile the teams were busy spreading the different juice ingredients.

JUICE’s antenna moves, but its deployment is hindered. // source : ESA/Juice/JMC, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Every day the RIME antenna shows more and more signs of movement […]. today [ndlr : le 28 avril] The radar, which is partially packaged, is about a third of its intended overall length ESA sums up in a press release. According to the space agency, the origin of the blockage would be attributed to a small pin that could have gotten stuck. If this scenario is correct, the consequences for the mission should not be dire, since a movement of a few millimeters would be sufficient to free the antenna. in full.

To unlock the antenna, the European Space Agency has a plan. It is planned to start the engine, which will allow the probe to vibrate and rotate. So the agency Hopes Antenna heating, currently drowning in shadows and cold. The space agency also wants to be reassured Confirming that ” JUICE is doing very well, and with two months of rollout planned there is still plenty of time to fix any issues. “.

After all, it’s easy to imagine that the teams involved in the JUICE mission will only feel relief when the antenna is properly deployed. Even if the JUICE launch is perfect, the hardest thing remains to do: travel for 8 long years in winding space, in a hostile environment.

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