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ESA and GomSpace to create the Juventas CubeSat for the Hera mission

Niels Buus, CEO of GomSpace

GomSpace Luxembourg SARL and the European Space Agency (ESA) signed a contract to continue development and implementation of the Juventas CubeSat, in support of the Hera mission. The contract value, approximately EUR 11,000,000, is focused on delivery of the Juventas spacecraft and its associated payloads for launch with Hera in 2024. The amount will be divided between several partners, with GomSpace’s share about EUR 6,100,000.

Together, NASA’s DART and Hera missions, and the international research collaboration known as the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA), will demonstrate deflection technology that could be used to protect Earth from hazardous asteroids by shunting them off a collision course. Juventas is a 6U nanosatellite containing a low frequency radar, named JuRa, as its primary payload (see Hera’s CubeSat to perform first radar probe of an asteroid).

“The Juventas mission will be complementing the larger Hera mothercraft, significantly increasing our science return. JuRa will provide the first ever direct measurement of the interior structure of an asteroid. Juventas will also attempt the first ever small body landing by a CubeSat to reveal important surface properties. We are very excited to start the implementation phase together with the strong consortium led by GomSpace,” according to Ian Carnelli of ESA, project manager of the Hera project.

The nanosatellite will operate in close proximity to the Didymos asteroid system, focusing radar and radio-science experiments targeting the moon of the binary asteroid, named Dimorphos. Juventas will complete its mission by attempting to land on the surface of Dimorphos, making measurements on the landing dynamics from likely bouncing events to capture details of the asteroids surface properties and end with measurements taken by a gravimeter payload to give insight to the dynamical properties of the asteroid.

“We are happy to continue our collaboration with ESA and the Hera project on this exciting mission. Juventas will be the first GomSpace designed nanosatellite in deep space demonstrating its capabilities in the harshest environment thus far. As part of the project we will continue to build our deep space capabilities and organisation based in GomSpace Luxembourg,” said Niels Buus, CEO of GomSpace.

GomSpace Luxembourg is the project prime, also working with GomSpace Denmark and GomSpace Sweden on some spacecraft platform components. The project continues the successful collaboration built from the initial design phase and includes the partners:

  • GMV Innovating Solutions from Romania leading the guidance, navigation and control subsystem
  • EmTroniX from Luxembourg leading the low-frequency radar payload electronics implementation
  • Institut de Planétologie et d’Astrophysique de Grenoble leading the radar concept design and specifications, scientific measurements, and contributing to the receive chain electronics
  • Technische Universität Dresden University providing the expertise in RF antenna simulation and test, and contributing to the transmit chain electronics
  • Filip Záplata from the Czech Republic contributing to the radar digital design
  • Astronika from Poland delivering the deployable radar antennas.
  • Embedded Instruments and Systems delivering the gravimeter payload with support in its design and scientific contributions from the Royal Observatory of Belgium

With both GomSpace Luxembourg and EmTroniX centrally positioned in the project it fully supports Luxembourg’s long-term vision for space exploration and exploitation: “The Luxembourg led Juventas satellite is a very important pathfinder mission cementing our national position as a pioneer in developing the required capabilities for peaceful exploration and sustainable use of space resources,” says Marc Serres, CEO of Luxembourg Space Agency.

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