Science and Technology

European satellite takes technology “made in Técnico” to Jupiter

The first satellite to orbit the moons of Jupiter is about to depart. It carries an instrument partly developed at Técnico.

Ariane 5 will launch ESA’s JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) mission to Jupiter, scheduled to takeoff this morning, 14th April.

JUICE carries an instrument – RADEM (Radiations Hard Electron Monitor) – partly developed by the Laboratory of Instrumentation and Experimental Particle Physics (LIP), a Técnico affiliated research centre. The instrument will measure the ionising radiation environment that the mission will be subjected to, both during the journey and in the Jovian system, and will generate alerts to protect the other detectors and systems. This particle detector will also allow for scientific measurements.

LIP’s participation in JUICE is coordinated by Patrícia Gonçalves (LIP researcher and Técnico professor). LIP collaborates with the European Space Agency (ESA), since 2003, through the “Space Radiation Environment and Effects” group. The Norwegian company “Ideas”, the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, in Switzerland, and Efacec also participated in the development of RADEM. Patrícia Gonçalves will be accompanying the launch from ESA’s European Satellite Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, as Team Leader of RADEM.

Besides the development of RADEM, in the context of this mission, LIP coordinated a project aimed at ensuring that the electronic components to be used in JUICE resist the high levels of radiation from Jupiter’s magnetic field.

Scheduled to arrive at Jupiter in July 2031, the satellite will make 35 flybys of the three large moons – Callisto, Europa and Ganymede – to look for water that might lie beneath the moons’ surfaces while orbiting Jupiter, before changing orbits to Ganymede, in December 2034.

JUICE includes components manufactured by several Portuguese companies, such as LusoSpace, a member of the Técnico spin-off community, which developed a calibration system for magnetometers. The Técnico alumni Filipe Metelo (Deputy Sim Officer for JUICE) and Bruno Sousa (flight director at ESA), are also involved in this mission.

Follow the Juice launch live.