The Juice mission is an ambitious project by the European Space Agency to launch a 5-tonne probe to reach the Jupiter system, where it will explore three of its icy moons: Ganymede, Europa and Callisto. With an estimated budget of approximately EUR 1.6bn, the mission’s goal is to study these moons and the environment of the Jovian system. Following a decade of preparations, on 13 April at 2:15 PM CEST, the world’s attention will be focused on the spaceport in French Guiana, from where the mission is set to launch into space. Creotech Instruments also contributed to the mission as it was responsible for assembling the electronics of two of the total ten research instruments on board the Juice probe: the RPWI instrument computer and the SWI instrument power supply system. Furthermore, the company’s team of electronic engineers collaborated with CRISA, a division of Airbus D&S in Spain, to carry out testing and characterization of the qualification (EQM) and flight (PFM) models, power subsystems (PCDU/EPS), and batteries for the entire Juice satellite.
“Space missions on the scale of the upcoming JUICE mission garner widespread attention beyond the space sector, capturing global interest. After all, this marks the first time humanity will have the opportunity to study the physical conditions in the environment of Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet, with such depth and precision. The entire project brings together specialists from various countries and companies, as well as a team of exceptional experts in highly specialized fields. At Creotech Instruments, we have been entrusted with the critical task of assembling the complex electronics for two of the probe’s onboard research instruments. “Participating in such a mission is an immense honor and highly prestigious, providing us with valuable references that we can confidently showcase in our business discussions. The JUICE mission, including the flight and planned research, will span over another decade or so. Meanwhile, we will continue to advance Creotech Instruments’ mission, solidifying our position on the international stage and contributing to the development of the Polish, European, and global space industry,” remarks Grzegorz Brona, PhD, President of the Management Board of Creotech Instruments S.A.
The JUICE mission (JUpiter ICy Moons Explorer) will transition to its next stage with the launch of the probe in French Guiana on 13 April aboard the Ariane 5 rocket. The most recent science mission to utilize this launch vehicle was the James Webb Space Telescope in December 2021. Following the launch, the probe will embark on an approximately 8-year journey to Jupiter, located five times farther from the Sun than Earth. Upon reaching Jupiter in 2031, JUICE will orbit the planet and conduct 35 flybys of its largest moons: Ganymede, Europa and Callisto. The mission will culminate with extended studies of Ganymede, as in 2034, Juice will become the first probe in history to enter orbit around a natural satellite other than the Earth’s moon.
The name of the JUICE mission directly refers to Jupiter’s icy moons, which have surfaces containing ice. According to some scientific theories, conditions at greater depths, including the presence of liquid water, may be suitable for life. The mission aims to help verify this theory, which is based on the idea that Jupiter’s immense mass disrupts the gravity of its satellites, causing the stretching and contraction of its largest moons. This resulting friction generates heat in their cores, potentially creating temperatures conducive to life.
The JUICE probe is equipped with ten state-of-the-art research instruments, comprising the most powerful set of remote sensing and geophysical tools ever sent to the outer Solar System. Creotech Instruments, in collaboration with the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences, was responsible for assembling the electronics for two of these research instruments, namely, the RPWI (Radio & Plasma Wave Investigation) and the SWI (Sub-millimeter Wave Instrument) power supply system onboard JUICE. The RPWI is designed to characterize the radio emissions and plasma environment of Jupiter and its icy moons. Meanwhile, the SWI is intended to study the temperature distribution, composition, and dynamics of Jupiter’s stratosphere and troposphere, as well as the exospheres and surfaces of its icy moons.
“Research instruments involved in deep space missions, like JUICE, must meet much higher requirements and expectations regarding reliability compared to satellites designed for Earth orbit operations. It’s important to consider that communication with the JUICE probe, from the time it sends a message until it receives a response, will take nearly 2 hours. Therefore, the key to the mission’s success is a high level of autonomy for the systems and their reliability in extremely challenging vacuum conditions with high radiation and fluctuating temperatures. Creotech Instruments possesses the necessary experience in assembling electronics for deep space exploration, as demonstrated by our role in manufacturing components for the Trace Gas Orbiter tasked with imaging the Martian surface as part of the ExoMars mission. Participation in the JUICE mission is not our first, but rather another valuable experience for us and a testament to the unique competencies we developed in the Polish market,” explains Jacek Kosiec, Vice President of the Management Board of Creotech Instruments S.A.
Creotech Instruments is the only company in Poland capable of building microsatellites, i.e., satellites weighing between 10 kg and 150 kg. Another milestone in the company’s growth is the EagleEye Project involving the development of an Earth observation satellite. It is slated for launch to low Earth orbit in late 2023/early 2024. The company is also engaged in the PIAST project, which aims to deliver the first Poland-made instruments of the national earth observation satellite system to serve the Polish Armed Forces. Within the framework of Piast, the company plans to build and deploy a constellation of three satellites based on the proprietary HyperSat platform in Earth orbit by 2025. Additionally, Creotech Instruments is involved in a pioneering project to build the first large quantum computer for the European Union as a member of the international Millenion consortium. The consortium members were selected by the European Commission, with Creotech Instruments being the sole representative from Central and Eastern Europe to sign an implementing agreement.