The RIME Antenna (short for Radar for Icy Moons Exploration), SpaceTech's contribution to the ESA JUICE (short for JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) mission, is an instrument which will investigate the geophysical structure of Jupiter's three largest icy moons – Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.
Goal of mission
It will begin its journey to Jupiter in 2022, arriving there in 2029. Scientific goal of this mission is to search for liquid water below the ice sheets which cover the surfaces of the moons. Liquid water is considered the basis of life in the universe. preservation of a spacecraft is the number one priority. Essential AOCS input needs to be provided by high reliable sensors.
On May 12, 2016, SpaceTech and Airbus have reached an agreement on the contract for the RIME Antenna delivery for ESA. The STI proposal stands out for the smart and light-weight technical solution and its cost-benefit ratio.
Key characteristics of the STI design
- A total mass of less than 7 kg for the whole antenna and less than 2Kg for the antenna booms made of ultra-light CFRP for a total deployed length of 16 meters, allowing savings in propellant on the long flight to Jupiter.
- The release mechanism lightweight non-explosive actuators
- A new integrated elastic hinge technology with multiple foldings (6 hinges) is used. When deployed these hinges ensure extreme high stiffness and alignment performance over the wide temperature range necessary to fly-by Venus and then operate in cryogenic cold environment in the backyard of the moons of Jupiter. The elastic hinge is achieved by cutting slots into the CFRP tube, resulting in an extremely light-weight all CRFP hinge without any metallic bracket or blades.
Illustration of stowed antenna
The antenna performance (radar characteristics) were thoroughly measured during several ground tests and helicopter flight tests with a satellite mock-up including RIME Antenna suspended on a rope of 120 meters below the helicopter to offer a free field of view for the RF measurements.
The STI design successfully passed the CDR in March 2019 and currently undergoes testing of the qualification model. The next milestone will be the assembly of the flight model starting in April 2020. The delivery of the flight unit to the customer is targeted for autumn 2020.