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Scientists communicate with Jupiter via tech from Flanders

‘We connect space’ is the motto of Antwerp Space – and you can take that literally. The Flanders-based aerospace company has developed a piece of cutting-edge technology that will orbit around our solar system’s largest planet, Jupiter, to share data with scientists on Earth. The system is scheduled for launch into space in 2022.

Antwerp Space has already made international headlines after developing a new modem for the International Space Station (ISS), which orbits at distance of some 300 kilometers above Earth. European astronauts will attach this modem – which replaces a former American system – to the exterior of the space station so that they can communicate faster with people on Earth.

On an international mission

Only adding to its credentials, Antwerp Space has now created a communication system that will bridge the gap between Earth and planet Jupiter. “The system is ready and currently being installed in a satellite called Juice in the German city of Friedrichshafen. Members of the Antwerp Space team have integrated our new communication system into the satellite,” says Koen Puimège, director of Antwerp Space.

“In 2022, the satellite will be launched into space from French Guiana,” he adds. “And by 2029, it will arrive in orbit around Jupiter. Our system will enable communication between the unmanned satellite and European ground stations in Kiruna (Sweden), Darmstadt (Germany) and Redu (Belgium), among other locations. It will take 50 minutes to exchange information between Jupiter and Earth.”

To the moon, Mars and – finally – Jupiter

Through Antwerp Space’s communication system, scientists will be able to learn more about Jupiter, which is located at a mindboggling 900 million kilometers from Earth.

The satellite with our system on board will also perform research on substances on some of Jupiter’s moons: Callisto, Europa and Ganymede. Scientists discovered large amounts of water on these moons, which could indicate the presence of life.

Koen Puimège
director of Antwerp Space

The satellite carrying Antwerp Space’s communication system will need to reach a very high speed to get to Jupiter. As part of a warm-up round, it will first fly a few laps around Earth’s moon and neighboring planet Mars. Afterwards, it will continue to Jupiter at full speed. The mission should be completed by 2034.

More info

Antwerp Space
Reported by
newspaper De Standaard
28 January 2021

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