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JUICE mission artists impression courtesy ESA

Optical Surfaces Ltd. (OSL) announces selection by Hensoldt Optronics GmbH, formerly Airbus (Oberkochen, Germany) to supply key precision optics for optical testing the Ganymede Laser Altimeter (GALA), one of 10 scientific instruments on-board the JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer) mission.

The JUICE mission is part of the European Space Agency (ESA) cosmic vision programme and its objective is to study Jupiter’s plasma environment and the three icy moons Ganymede, Europa and Calisto. The JUICE spacecraft will be launched in 2022 on an Ariane 5 rocket. After its 8 year voyage it will enter an orbit around Jupiter. During the following three years the orbit will be gradually adjusted and after several fly-bys at Callisto, Europa and Ganymede the spacecraft will reach its final orbit around Ganymede. GALA will be used to determine the topography and time dependent shape of the moon by a direct laser altimetry approach.

The GALA instrument is composed of three units: a transceiver unit, a laser electronics unit and an electronics unit all designed to withstand the challenging environment of Jupiter. At the heart of the transceiver unit is a lightweight Ritchey–Chrétien telescope incorporating precision optics capable of providing topographical vertical resolution of less than 5 metres and measure radial tidal deformations of the moons ice shell with an absolute accuracy of less than 0.03.

Because of its international reputation for supplying outstanding mounted optics for telescope systems and instruments, Hensoldt selected Optical Surfaces Ltd. to manufacture and supply a 550 mm diameter off-axis parabolic mirror and two identical folded flat mirrors (600 mm diameter) for optical verification testing of the Ritchey–Chrétien telescope in the GALA instrument.

Optical Surfaces Ltd. has been producing leading edge precision mounted optics for more than 50 years and is now accepted as one of the world’s leading suppliers for space and astronomy research. The company’s ISO 9001-2008 approved manufacturing workshops and test facilities are deep underground in a series of tunnels excavated in solid chalk where temperature remains constant and vibration is practically non-existent. With such stable conditions, testing, particularly with long path lengths, becomes quantifiable and reliable. 

Labels: Optical Surfaces,JUICE,Jupiter,telescope,off-axis parabolic mirror,flat mirror,verfication testing,astronomy,Ganymede,Europa,Calisto

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