SENER Aeroespacial delivers the flight model for the JUICE medium-gain antenna

14/07/2020 (International)

SENER Aeroespacial has delivered to Airbus Defence and Space, the client and lead contractor of the JUICE mission, the flight model for the Medium-Gain Antenna Main Assembly (MGAMA), including its control electronics, as well as all interconnecting harness and ground support equipment. A video of the functional tests with the MGAMA is available here.

The JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) mission is one of the major scientific missions of the European Space Agency's Cosmic Vision program. The satellite is expected to be launched in 2022 and arrive in Jupiter in 2030, after a long journey assisted by gravity assist around Venus, Earth and Mars.

The antenna, which can be steered in two axes, operates in the X and Ka bands to provide two-way communications between the JUICE satellite and the Earth, and to allow for the operation of the radio-science experiment carried on the probe. This experiment will analyze the atmospheres and gravitational fields of the planet and of several of its moons, namely Ganymede, Europa and Callisto.

SENER Aeroespacial was the design authority, responsible for the manufacture, verification and integration of the entire MGAMA subsystem. Its most characteristic components include:

  • The titanium main reflector, with a diameter of half a meter and a thickness of 0.7 mm, as well as its auxiliary elements, which guarantee thermal stability and radiofrequency performance.
  • The boom, waveguides and rotary joints, which both allow the reflector to be moved about a meter away from the satellite and that guide the antenna's radio signals.
  • The pointing mechanism or APM, which steers the antenna in azimuth and elevation. The azimuthal axis is driven by a reduction motor, which is geared to a rotary L-shaped bracket that supports the elevation actuator. The output of the elevation bracket is connected to the antenna mast. Both actuators consist of stepper motors with planetary reduction gears that are linked to the corresponding output brackets.
  • The electronics of the antenna pointing mechanism, which control the APM and receive motion commands from the satellite on-board computer. It contains the control algorithms to follow the required motion profiles and returns the required telemetry sending information of the antenna status. 

The view expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Space Agency.

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