IEP SAS is a part of space mission to Jupiter’s moons


Institute of Experimental Physics SAS contributes to the preparation of the European Space Agency’s space mission (ESA). As the Institute informed the The News Agency of the Slovak Republic, JUICE mission focuses on detailed research of the planet Jupiter and three of its icy moons. They received specialized grant in the field of building of flight hardware of space probe within the accession process of PECS Slovakia to the ESA.

The subject of development is the anti-coincidence detector ACM, which is a part of scientific particle complex PEP. Its task will be to ensure effective detection of plasma particles against the background of strong radiation from Jupiter radiation bands.

“This giant planet has extremely strong magnetic field which captures number of charged energy particles into so-called Van Allen radiation belts. Especially the high energy electrons are capable to penetrate even through shielding of the space probe and cause false detection in sensitive devices,” says Ján Baláž, member of the Institute of Experimental Physics SAS and PECS project leader. He adds that the detector focuses on distinguishing of these penetrating particles from the investigated regular plasma. Two ACM detectors prototypes have already been provided to ESA. Currently the physical calibrations and termo-vacuum qualification tests of the latest flight model of ACM are being performed in the laboratories of the IEP SAS.

Unlike previous missions, where only know-how and qualified work was provided, Slovakia now contributes through the PECS integration process also financially, especially by the purchase of expensive space components.

“By these means we are becoming the full contributors to the space mission ESA,” he says.

Baláž reminded, that PECS Slovakia is under accession process to the ESA since 2015 and currently it is being decided on the possible methods of future cooperation with ESA before Slovakia becomes a full member. According to the IEP SAS, Slovakia is lagging behind in integration with ESA as most European Union countries, including the Czech Republic, Poland, Austria and Hungary, are already full members.

The launch of the JUICE mission with a budget of more than one billion euros, is set for May 20, 2022, and the spacecraft will reach Jupiter in 2029. Here it will orbit the planet for two years, with three near orbits around the icy moons as a part of its trajectory. According to scientists, life could be found on one of them – in the ocean under the ice cover.

Source: The News Agency of the Slovak Republic, July 1, 2020