After a successful launch on April 14 on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, the European Space Agency (ESA) Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) captured this pair of images captures the rotation of the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer’s solar arrays during their deployment
The images were taken by Juice monitoring camera 1 (JMC1), which is located on the front of the spacecraft and looks diagonally up into a field of view that will eventually see deployed antennas, and depending on their orientation, part of one of the solar arrays. Because of the acute viewing angle of the camera, only part of the array is seen, in this case part of the distinctive cross-shape pattern of one of the solar panels.
The first image was taken at 15:28 CEST during solar array panel deployment. The second image was taken at 15:32 CEST, and shows the panels having rotated into their 70 degree position, just a few seconds before the deployment sequence was confirmed to have completed.
The lighting conditions are challenging in this scene, with the side of the array causing a bright reflection.
Each of the two ‘wings’ comprise five 2.5 x 3.5 m panels with a total area of 85 square metres. In total they span 27 m tip-to-tip, and are crucial to provide the necessary power to run the spacecraft and operate the science instruments once exploring the Jupiter system, where sunlight is 25 times weaker than on Earth. Their deployment, completed at 15:33 CEST, was critical to the success of the mission.
JMC images provide 1024 x 1024 pixel snapshots. The images shown here are lightly processed with a preliminary colour adjustment.