- May 29, 2023
Work Continues To Deploy Juice RIME Antenna
Juice’s ice-penetrating RIME antenna has not yet been deployed as planned. During the first week of commissioning, an issue arose with the 16-metre-long Radar for Icy Moons Exploration (RIME) antenna, which is preventing it from being released from its mounting bracket.
Work continues to free the radar and teams at ESA’s mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, along with partners in science and industry, have lots of ideas up their sleeves.
Every day the RIME antenna shows more signs of movement, visible in images from the Juice Monitoring Camera on board the spacecraft with a partial view of the radar and its mount. Now partially extended but still stowed away, the radar is roughly a third of its full intended length.
The current leading hypothesis is that a tiny stuck pin has not yet made way for the antenna’s release. In this case, it is thought that just a matter of millimetres could make the difference to set the rest of the radar free.
Various options are still available to nudge the important instrument out of its current position. The next steps to fully deploy the antenna include an engine burn to shake the spacecraft a little followed by a series of rotations that will turn Juice, warming up the mount and radar, which are currently in the cold shadows.
Juice is otherwise performing excellently after the successful deployment and operation of its mission-critical solar arrays and medium gain antenna, as well as its 10.6-m magnetometer boom.
With two months of planned commissioning remaining, there is plenty of time for teams to get to the bottom of the RIME deployment issue and continue work on the rest of the powerful suite of instruments on their way to investigate the outer Solar System.
Updates will be shared as new information becomes available.
The RIME instrument is an ice-penetrating radar designed to study the surface and subsurface structure of Jupiter’s icy moons down to a depth of 9 km.
It is one of ten instruments on board ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, Juice, set to investigate the emergence of habitable worlds around gas giants and the formation of our Solar System.