2019.A.4.2. Development of the Juventas CubeSat for Hera


Hannah Goldberg (1)
Özgür Karatekin (2)

  1. GomSpace, Denmark
  2. Royal Observatory of Belgium, Belgium




asteroid science, CubeSat, Didymos


Juventas is a 6U CubeSat to be deployed from the Hera spacecraft once in proximity to the Didymos binary asteroid system. Hera is a planetary defense mission from ESA that will investigate the results from NASA’s DART impact of the binary “Didymoon.” Once released, Juventas will perform radar and radio science experiments to give insight to the asteroid interior structure and gravity field. The primary Juventas payload is a Low-Frequency Radar operating at approximately 50MHz. The radio science experiment will be enabled using the Inter-Satellite Link of communications between Juventas and Hera providing navigation information. The observational phase for Juventas will last more than one month. Once the observations are complete, the CubeSat will attempt to land on the surface of Didymoon to give insight to its surface and dynamical properties. During the landing impact and bouncing events, Juventas will collect high rate data with its high accuracy accelerometers and gyros. Juventas also includes a 3-axis gravimeter to measure the local gravity field. After landing, the goal of the CubeSat is to survive and collect surface data for at least one orbit.

Although the Juventas CubeSat provides science benefit to the mission, typical of a hosted instrument, as a free-flying spacecraft, it requires all of the complexities of larger spacecraft subsystems. For operation at large solar ranges, deployable solar arrays are required. Juventas must autonomously be able to navigate and collect instrument data with minimal interaction using operations teams on the ground. The spacecraft has a 6 DOF cold-gas propulsion system for the purpose of its own proximity operational maneuvers. Communication of spacecraft and payload data will be relayed from Juventas through Hera back to science teams on Earth. The RF inter-satellite link is also used for proximity navigation.

Juventas provides a low-cost means to provide complementary science to ESA’s Hera mission. Its success will contribute to understanding of the formation process of binary asteroids, their interior structure, gravity field, and composition.


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