29/03/2017

Elecnor Deimos, responsible for the
planetary protection in ESA’s
Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer mission

Elecnor Deimos plays a key role in ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE), the first ESA large-class mission in the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 programme. As the responsible for the planetary protection, the company will have to guarantee that Europa will not be contaminated under any possible mission failure. Being also involved in the mission navigation review and design, Elecnor Deimos participates in two of the most critical aspects for the success of the Jovian mission.

JUICE will have to perform 26 flybys around Ganymede, Europa and Callisto, navigating autonomously through the three Galilean moons while guaranteeing that Europa remains free of any potential terrestrial contamination. “Our team will have to face the dynamically chaotic nature of the Jovian system, which sensibly increases the complexity of the mission analyses and challenges the state-of-the-art techniques usually employed for autonomous navigation and impact probability calculations” says Simone Centuori, Head of Mission Analysis and Navigation at Elecnor Deimos.

Elecnor Deimos participates in two of the most critical aspects for the success of the Jovian mission

The mission design has recently passed the Preliminary Design Review and has therefore entered into the implementation phase. According to ESA “the review ensured that JUICE will meet strict planetary protection guidelines, because it is imperative to minimise the risk that the potentially habitable ocean moons, particularly Europa, might be contaminated by viruses, bacteria or spores carried by the spacecraft from Earth. Therefore, mission plans ensure that Juice will not crash into Europa, on a timescale of hundreds of years”. As Airbus Defence and Space subcontractor, this has been one of the most critical contributions provided by Elecnor Deimos. The challenging analysis will be further refined during the next months and up to the Critical Design Review to be held in two years.

Scheduled for launch in 2022, with arrival in the Jovian system in 2029, JUICE will spend three-and-a-half years examining the giant planet’s turbulent atmosphere, enormous magnetosphere, its set of tenuous dark rings and its satellites. It will study the large icy moons Ganymede, Europa and Callisto, which are thought to have oceans of liquid water beneath their icy crusts – perhaps even harbouring habitable environments.

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