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System concepts for and enabling technologies for an ESA low-cost mission to Jupiter/Europa

System concepts for and enabling technologies for an ESA low-cost mission to Jupiter/Europa

Publication date: 26 April 2005

Authors: Renard, P., et al.

Journal: Proceedings of 55th International Astronautical Congress, Vancouver, Canada, 2004
Year: 2005

Copyright: ESA

The European Space Agency is currently studying the Jovian Minisat Explorer (JME), as part of its Technology Reference Studies (TRS). TRS are model science-driven studies contributing in the ESA strategic development plan of technologies that will enable future scientific missions.

The JME focuses on the exploration of the Jovian system and particularly the exploration of its moon Europa. The Jupiter Minisat Orbiter (JMO) study, which is the subject of the present paper, concerns the first mission phase of JME that counts up to three missions spaced in time by 6 years using pairs of minisats. The scientific objectives are the investigation of Europa's global topography, the composition of its (sub)surface and the demonstration of existence of a subsurface ocean below Europa's icy crust.

The present paper describes the candidate JMO system concept, based on a Europa Orbiter (JEO) supported by a communications relay satellite (JRS), and its associated technology development plan. It summarizes an analysis performed in 2004 jointly by ESA and the EADS-Astrium Company in the frame of an industrial technical assistance to ESA.

It addresses the interplanetary transfer, the hostile radiation environment, the power generation issue, the communication system, as well as the need for high autonomy on-board.

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