the 16 meter antenna blocked

This should have been a pivotal time for space exploration. However, an unexpected hurdle arose during the commissioning of Juice’s RIME antenna. Teams from the European Space Agency (ESA) are working tirelessly to solve this problem.

While the antenna of the Radar for Icy Moons Exploration (RIME) 16 meters long was to be deployed, it got stuck in its mounting bracket. Scientists and industrialists, in collaboration with the control center ESA missions in Darmstadt, Germany, are exploring different ideas to solve this problem.

The main assumption is that a small stuck pin is preventing the antenna from deploying. Only a few millimeters could be enough to release it. Currently, the antenna is partially extended, reaching about a third of its total length.

View of the RIME antenna – ESA image

To successfully deploy the antenna completely, several options are considered. Among them, one based on the engine to lightly shake the spacecraft, followed by a series of rotations to warm up the mount and radar, currently at theombre and at cold.

Despite this incident, Juice is performing very well, with the successful deployment of its solar panels and mid-gain antenna, as well as the operation of its 10.6 meter magnetometer pole. There are still two month planned commissioning, leaving sufficient temps teams to solve this problem.

The RIME antenna is designed to study the surface and subsurface structure of Jupiter’s icy moons to a depth of 9 km. It is one of ten instruments aboard ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice), whose mission is to study the emergence of habitable worlds around gas giants and the formation of our solar system.

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