NATSUME has received the Appreciation Letter from JAXA to commemorate the successful launch of the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer JUICE


We are delighted to inform you that NATSUME OPTICAL CORPORATION (NATSUME) has received a letter of appreciation from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to commemorate the successful launch of the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE).

NATSUME is a company specializing in the production of high-precision optical elements used in cutting-edge industries such as semiconductor manufacturing equipment and aerospace development.

The Jupiter Icy moons Explorer (JUICE) is a large exploration program for Jupiter icy moons led by the European Space Agency (ESA). It is considered one of the most significant international programs in the history of solar system exploration, with participation from European countries, Japan, the United States, and Israel. The JUICE spacecraft was launched on April 14, 2023, using an Ariane 5 rocket from the French Guiana Space Center, and it is expected to reach the Jupiter system in 2031. During this mission, JUICE will conduct flybys of three of Jupiter’s moons — Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto — before finally entering orbit around Ganymede. The main objective of JUICE is to investigate the origin and evolution of the Jovian system, including its internal structure, geological activity, surface environment, atmosphere, and the potential for life.

JUICE is equipped with 10 observation instruments, among which is the Ganymede Laser Altimeter (GALA). This instrument utilizes high-quality optical elements (lenses) manufactured by Natsume Optics. GALA functions by repeatedly emitting laser beams onto the surface of an icy moon, such as Ganymede, and then receiving the reflected waves to detect its topography, shape, and tidal deformation. By conducting these measurements, GALA is anticipated to provide valuable insights into the topography of the icy moons and the presence and distribution of liquid underground oceans.

The optical elements (lenses) used in GALA were manufactured using special optical materials selected for use in space environments and NATSUME’s proprietary technology for processing nano-precision free-form surfaces.

Image of one of the icy moons, Ganymede, and the JUICE spacecraft (ESA / ATG Medialab).