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As part of preparations for the launch of ESA's Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, its navigation camera has been given a unique test: imaging its destination from Earth.
The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, JUICE, will launch in 2022 on a seven-year journey to the Jupiter system. In the first mission of its kind, it will not only orbit Jupiter and make repeated flybys of the planet's large and ocean-bearing moons Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, but will culminate in a dedicated orbital tour of Ganymede—the largest moon in the Solar System.
Spacecraft - Suite - Instruments - Analysis - Jupiter
The spacecraft will be equipped with a scientifically powerful suite of instruments for an in-depth analysis of Jupiter, its environment, and moons, but it also flies essential elements such as a navigation camera, or NavCam. Together with radio tracking, the NavCam will be used to obtain the position and velocity of the spacecraft relative to the moon it is flying by.
The NavCam has been specifically designed to be resistant to the harsh radiations environment around Jupiter and to acquire images of the planet, moon and background stars. Importantly, NavCam measurements will allow the spacecraft to be in the optimal trajectory and to consume as little fuel as possible during the grand tour of Jupiter, and to improve the pointing accuracy during these fast and close rendezvous approaches. The close encounters will bring the spacecraft between about 200 and 400 km to the moons.
June - Team - Engineers - Roof - Airbus
In June, a team of engineers took to the roof of the Airbus Defence and Space site in Toulouse to test the NavCam engineering model in real sky conditions. The purpose was to validate hardware and software interfaces, and to prepare the image processing and onboard navigation software that will be used in-flight to...
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