ESA Comet Interceptor mission with wider Polish participation

Creotech Instruments announced in the second half of November that it had been invited by the Swiss University of Bern to participate in the Comet Interceptor mission, prepared under the leadership of the European Space Agency (ESA). The company’s task is to prepare a design and manufacture components for one of the probe’s research devices.

The spacecraft of the ESA mission is to be launched in 2029 at a distance of about 1.5 million km from Earth. After waiting for a comet to reach the interior of the solar system, the spacecraft will split into three smaller spacecraft, each with different research instruments. The smaller probes will reach the comet’s tail and measure its chemical composition, density, magnetic field and interaction with the solar wind.

The main goal of the mission is to thoroughly understand the comet’s structure and characteristics, also in terms of preparing for potential future missions that could change the comet’s trajectory.

Creotech Instruments recently concluded direct negotiations with ESA on the terms of the contract to develop the components of the Comet Interceptor initiative. The project will be run as an “F” class mission under the Cosmic Vision program.

The entire project was divided into a series of phases. The first phase, which is the main subject of the completed negotiations, will, as agreed, be carried out by Creotech by June 2022, and its value will amount to over PLN 700,000. PLN. The signing of the contract for the implementation of the contract has been announced at the beginning of December 2021.

We accepted with satisfaction the invitation to participate in the key mission of studying comet composition. We will be responsible for the design and implementation of the signal reading and processing subsystem for one of the Comet Interceptor research devices. The role of the device will be to study the chemical composition of a comet. Our part of the works entering the first phase of the project will be completed by mid-2022.

The signal reading and processing subsystem (RoE – Readout Electronics) designed by Creotech will be created for the needs of the MANIaC (Mass Analyzer for Neutrals and Ions at Comet) device. Its task will be to carry out measurements in the field of the so-called mass spectroscopy, which measures the mass of the atomic nuclei of the gases leaving the comet.

The first phase of the project, in which the Creotech Instruments team will be involved, will be the design and production of a prototype of the RoE subsystem. Its delivery is scheduled for the preliminary design review of the MANiaC device to take place in June 2022. Then the mission is to be officially approved by ESA and a contract with Creotech is to be signed for the delivery of qualification models and volatile RoE subsystems.

The participation of Creotech Instruments is not the only Polish accent in the strict implementation of the Comet Interceptor project. In addition to the commercial contribution, it is also the participation of Polish scientists and engineers from such centers as the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences (Dr. Hanna Rothkaehl) and the University of Warsaw (Dr. Konrad Kossacki).

Source: Creotech Instruments