Ibadan, 15 May, 2023. – The JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) mission control center in Darmstadt, Germany, along with partners in science and industry, has successfully enabled the deployment of the spacecraft’s ice-penetrating Radar for Icy Moons Exploration (RIME) antenna as it escapes its mounting bracket.
During the first attempt to extend the folded-up antenna, the mission control could only deploy the first segments of each half. As a result, they suspected that a tiny stuck pin jammed the other segments in place. To try to shift the pin, they shook Juice using its thrusters, then warmed Juice with sunlight. Every day the RIME antenna showed signs of movement but no full release.
However, on May 12, RIME finally jolted into life when the flight control team fired a mechanical device called a ‘non-explosive actuator’ (NEA) located in the jammed bracket. This delivered a shock that moved the pin by a matter of millimeters and allowed the antenna to unfold. Despite this, a final part of the antenna remained stuck.
As a result, confirmation that the RIME antenna successfully deployed came only when the flight control team fired another actuator in the bracket. This enabled RIME to fully stretch itself out after months spent folded up for launch.
Once Juice arrives at Jupiter, it will use RIME to study the surface and subsurface structure of Jupiter’s icy moons down to a depth of 9 km. RIME is one of ten instruments on board Juice set to investigate the emergence of habitable worlds around gas giants and the formation of our Solar System.