Rohde & Schwarz test receivers help Airbus evaluate antenna critical to ESA JUICE expedition

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany. Airbus engineers are harnessing Rohde & Schwarz (R&S) ESR EMI test equipment to measure and verify the performance of instruments, including a critical antenna, on the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE).

Rohde & Schwarz test receivers help Airbus evaluate antenna critical to ESA JUICE expedition
Rohde & Schwarz test receivers help Airbus evaluate antenna critical to ESA JUICE expedition

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany. Airbus engineers are harnessing Rohde & Schwarz (R&S) ESR EMI test equipment to measure and verify the performance of instruments, including a critical antenna, on the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE).

The radar for icy moons exploration (RIME) antenna will play a key role in the expedition. It is designed for the 7.5 MHz to 10.5 MHz frequency range given that low frequency is needed to penetrate the surface of Jupiter's moons up to nine kilometers, or five and half miles, deep. Engineers subjected the RIME antenna to a series of tests to verify its simulation data and to measure its radiation pattern under conditions similar to those on board the probe. Rohde & Schwarz provided two R&S ESR EMI test receivers to measure the antenna's radiation pattern during these tests.

Rohde & Schwarz test receivers help Airbus evaluate antenna critical to ESA JUICE expeditionRohde & Schwarz test receivers help Airbus evaluate antenna critical to ESA JUICE expeditionThe Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) is scheduled to blast off for a journey of nearly 800 million kilometers to Jupiter in 2022. Before the launch can take place, the space probe's radar antennas must be flight tested. Rohde & Schwarz provided two R&S ESR EMI test receivers to support this test.

"When we analyzed the measurement task, it quickly became clear that a basic spectrum analyzer wouldn't deliver the required performance and we needed to bring in a real-time spectrum analyzer. Due to the unknown environmental conditions of the measurements, we decided to use two R&S ESR analyzers because they have an additional preselection feature," says Uwe Körber, Rohde & Schwarz Test and Measurement Division in Munich.

At an airfield near the Airbus facility in Friedrichshafen, Germany, the test crew assessed the RIME instrument’s 16.6-meter antenna in various flight configurations. A helicopter lifted a mockup of the space probe, housing the transmitter, up to 320 meters in the air. The two test receivers, each with an RF receive antenna, remained on the ground. The helicopter flew the mockup around the two receiving stations to collect the data needed to calculate the antenna’s radiation pattern. Rohde & Schwarz provided the ESA with the measured raw data.

The JUICEdeep space mission is scheduled to blast off for a journey of nearly 800 million kilometers to Jupiter in 2022 to study the icy moons of Jupiter. The JUICE objectives are to explore the atmosphere and magnetosphere of the moons and investigate whether there are liquid oceans suitable for habitation under the thick, icy crusts of moon Ganymede.

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The Rohde & Schwarz technology group develops, produces, and markets information and communications technology products for professional users. Rohde & Schwarz focuses on test and measurement, broadcast and media, cybersecurity, secure communications and monitoring, and network testing, areas that address many different industry and government-sector market segments. Founded more than 80 years ago, the independent company has an extensive sales and service network in more than 70 countries. On June 30, 2017, Rohde & Schwarz had approximately 10,500 employees. The group achieved a net revenue of approximately EUR 1.9 billion in the 2016/2017 fiscal year (July to June). The company is headquartered in Munich, Germany, and also has regional hubs in Asia and the USA.R&S® is a registered trademark of Rohde & Schwarz GmbH & Co.KG.

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