We got it! Mechanisms developed by a Polish company worked on their way to Jupiter!

Each successful space mission is the fruit of many years of cooperation between dozens of entities and hundreds of scientists, engineers, and managers. Our work resulted in the creation of several new technologies and a patent. Inventing and procuring appropriate components required close, long-term cooperation between a number of Polish subcontractors – universities, institutes and private companies. Behind each of these entities is a separate technology that had to be developed as part of the project.

We would like to thank not only our colleagues and partners, but also the Ministry of Education and Science. By funding the ESA Prodex programme, they integrate the activities of scientists and engineers at a national level. Without them, all of this would not be possible. Only together can we reach for the stars – literally! – said Łukasz Wiśniewski from Astronika. 

Together we can reach the stars

A space mission not only pursues scientific goals, but also fulfils the goal of strengthening the entire economy, because such an undertaking is not possible to do alone. This kind of project is divided into many stages, which are implemented in cooperation with numerous partners and consortia, where everyone pitches in. The same is true for ESA JUICE and the RPWI experiment. We want to name those who participated in the development of LP-PWI booms and RWI antennas and indicate their roles.

The RPWI experiment is 1 of 10 experiments onboard the JUICE spacecraft. The main leader is the Swedish Institute of Space Physics in Uppsala, Sweden (PIs: Jan Erik Wahlund and Jan Bergman). The development of RWI and LP-PWI begun in the main scientific entity for the JUICE mission in Poland, i.e. the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences (CBK PAN, Co-PI: Prof. Hanna Rothkaehl). Prototypes of these devices were created at CBK PAN between 2015 and 2016.


According to the ESA’s strategy of transferring the implementation of technology to industry, Astronika was given the task of increasing the technological readiness of RWI and LP-PWI devices by designing, manufacturing, integrating and testing a number of models over various stages. Advanced simulation capabilities allowed to minimize the number of prototypes produced, and consequently the energy and materials consumed and the waste generated.  This was possible thanks to the support received from the Industrial Development Agency in the form of a grant for the licensing of software for engineering analysis and mechanical design.  

Over the past 6 years, Astronika produced 10 different models of the LP-PWI booms and 10 models of the RWI antennas. Four booms and three antennas are on board the spacecraft. In Astronika 20 specialists, including engineers, technicians, and machine operators, were involved in the project at that time. 

Much of the work was done within the international consortium of the experiment. The electronics for the RWI system were provided by Tohoku University in Japan and JAXA, and Astronika’s patent for an inertial attenuator was used to ensure proper opening dynamics of RWI antennas. In turn, on the Langmuir probes for LP PWI booms, specialized TiAlN coatings were used, giving electrical conductivity and the required optical properties, provided by Linköping University together with IRFU, LP PWI preamplifier was carried out by CBK PAN, while thermal analyzes were carried out by KTH in Sweden. Ultra-light and durable composite tubes from which LP PWI booms are made were supplied by the German company Invent. The required gilding was made by the Swedish company Fintlings AB.



Astronika’s subcontracts

In Poland, a number of completely new technologies were developed and tests to verify the correctness of the models were carried out through Astronika’s subcontracts. The most important include: 

Scientific institutions:

  • Warsaw University of Technology – specialised coatings and surface treatment,
  • Koszalin University of Technology – specialised DLC coatings for RWI (Radio Wave Instrument) 
  • Institute of Electron Technology – deposition of resistive layers on ceramic resistor of the Langmuir probe
  • Institute of Aviation – RWI antenna vibration testing.

Industrial entities:

  • ELPOD – of thermal resistors development and manufacturing,
  • Gutronic – supply of patented tubes that make up RWI antennas,
  • Wareluk S.C. – machining thin-walled Langmuir probe sensor details of titanium alloy,
  • Powłoka S.C. – development of a ceramic base for the Langmuir probe’s resistor
  • Smart Metrology – non-contact geometry measurement of the assembled LP-PWI booms to verify assembly accuracy.
  • Towes – supply of springs for the LP-PWI holding and releasing mechanism.
  • ARP S.A. – co-financing of software for engineering analysis and design.

We reach for the stars and beyond!

Realizing such objectives as the participation in ESA’s JUICE mission stretches over 20 years from mission conception to taking measurements near Jupiter. Their great advantage is the strategic networking of the various stakeholders. Thanks to such good, effective cooperation, Polish companies and institutes are gaining more and more trust from the European Space Agency, NASA, and large space system suppliers, who order specific solutions from us. This, in turn, causes a systematic increase in the number of orders commissioned to Polish companies, and we can develop more and more dynamically. Staff numbers and infrastructure grow and expand, we can invest, we can build test and execution centres, and Polish students can find extremely interesting work in the Polish space industry.