JUICE: a new challenge for CSL

 ©ESA/NASA/JPL

©ESA/NASA/JPL

The Centre Spatial de Liège (CSL) has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to carry out numerous tests on various parts of the JUICE satellite, which will be launched in 2022 for an unprecedented mission to the largest planet in our solar system. The ability of the CSL to perform tests under extreme conditions has been further demonstrated.

The JUICE mission (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) is the first Class L mission of the Cosmic Vision ESA 2015-2025 program. The launch is planned in 2022, for an arrival close to Jupiter in 2030, will allow detailed observations of the giant gas planet Jupiter and three of its largest moons: Ganymede, Callisto and Europa.

The very nature of this mission will see its instrument confront extreme temperature variations, ranging from -240°C to +160°C, particularly on external elements such as solar panels, antennas and articulated arms equipped with various magnetic field measuring instruments.

The Liège Space Centre (Project Manager:  Christophe Grodent and Tanguy Thibert ) has developed - thanks to its specific skills  - a unique test facility enabling a large number of thermal cycles to be carried out in a wide temperature range and over a relatively limited period of time. This project, whose client is ADS Toulouse, is carried out in collaboration with the Romanian company COMOTI.

The first test campaign on behalf of ADS NL started in July and was successfully completed on the 13 December 2017 after a total of 84 days under vacuum. The results of these sample tests will validate technologies for the manufacture of solar panels, which must withstand extreme hot and cold conditions. At the beginning of 2018, the CSL is awaiting delivery of a new thermal box, of a larger size (5mX3mX2m), which will qualify the complete solar panels and other large subsystems.

A new challenge for the CSL teams.