Success Stories

Exploring the Icy Moons of Jupiter with the JUICE Program

The European Space Agency (ESA) has launched its historic mission to send the first ever spacecraft to Jupiter’s largest icy moons. The JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) program will allow ESA to explore and study these moons in more detail than ever before. Toray are honored for their material to be used on these landmark missions.

The mission will explore three of Jupiter's Galilean moons: Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa. These planet-sized moons (Ganymede, the largest, is roughly half the size of Earth) will all be investigated by JUICE to establish the existence of liquid water under their surfaces. 

The discovery of water could be a massive breakthrough for space exploration, as it will increase the likelihood that some form of life can survive under the crust of the moons. To uncover the secrets of these moons, the JUICE spaceship will repeatedly orbit the moons over 2.5 year period in order to create an accurate of map of the surfaces to establish their composition.

Five billion kilometer journey

After launch, it will take 8 years and five billion kilometers for JUICE to reach its destination. The spacecraft should begin its first orbit in July 2031 and complete departure in December 2034. To achieve this, the craft will perform several gravity-assist ‘flybys’ (using a planet’s gravitational field to propel and direct the vessel towards it’s intended target) at Venus, Earth, and Mars.

To aid the creation of a spacecraft that can cope with these the extreme conditions of deep space, ESA collaborated with Airbus to create the JUICE spacecraft. In this process, they utilized composite materials supplied by Toray Advanced Composites to create the substrate panels of the Advanced Rigid Array (ARA) Mk4 solar array system for satellites.

Capturing the Power of the Sun

The ARA Mk4 solar arrays are hugely innovative, as they will allow the spacecraft to be powered by solar energy to complete its journey despite the distance from Jupiter to the Sun (740.89 million km). The solar arrays for JUICE are the largest built for any interplanetary spacecraft – reaching 85m2 in surface area, and are able to withstand temperatures from +110°C (230°F) to minus 230°C (-382°F). The substrate panels on JUICE’s ARA Mk4 solar arrays feature Toray RS-36 on their facesheets, edge-members, and patches. RS-36 is a space-qualified epoxy-based thermoset prepreg supplied from Toray’s UK site based in Langley Mill.

Solar array deployment test, ©Airbus

Jupiter from James Webb Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Jupiter ERS Team

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