Nanocomp’s Miralon™ sheets are protecting Juno’s mission critical electronics.
July 5, 2016 - NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter has successfully executed perhaps the most critical move of its entire mission – Jupiter Orbit Insertion (or JOI) – and Nanocomp Technologies in Merrimack is proud to be part of this mission’s success. This phase of the Juno mission began on June 30th when mission controllers transmitted command product “ji4040” into deep space to transition the solar-powered Juno spacecraft into autopilot for insertion into Jupiter’s orbit and concluded just before midnight on July 4th with the successful completion of the Jupiter Orbit Insertion burn.
Juno’s development team used Nanocomp’s MiralonTM sheet material to provide protection against electrostatic discharge (ESD) as the spacecraft made its way to Jupiter. Miralon acts as a surface layer on the flight system’s attitude control motor struts and the main engine housing. Nanocomp worked with Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor on the project, to integrate Miralon into the spacecraft during its development and construction.
Peter Antoinette, president of Nanocomp Technologies, says “Lockheed was interested in implementing an alternative ESD solution to traditional aluminum foil that is typically bonded to the surface of composites.” Antoinette added that, with the Miralon sheet layers, Lockheed Martin was able to put electrostatic discharge protection directly into the composite, making the composite a more integral part of the spacecraft.
Juno launched in 2011 with a mission designed to increase understanding of how the Jupiter formed and the inner workings of the planet itself. Juno’s elliptical orbit takes it over the planet's poles and just 3000 miles over Jupiter’s clouds, closer than any other spacecraft has come before.
“The Juno spacecraft has sensitive electronic systems that require ESD protection especially as it will be travelling through Jupiter’s extremely strong radiation belts,” said Antoinette. In fact, on earth, the typical background radiation is about 0.39 RAD. NASA says over the course of its mission to Jupiter, Juno is expected to encounter cumulative radiation of 20,000,000 RAD, prompting the need for increased protection.