European Space Agency Flickr Update


‘Floating Piers’ on Lake Iseo
22-06-2016 04:49 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

‘Floating Piers’ on Lake Iseo

The Sentinel-2A satellite captured the ‘Floating Piers’ installation on Lake Iseo by the Bulgarian–American artist, Christo. See animated GIF .

Credit: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016)/ESA

22-06-2016 04:31 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:


ESA’s Sentinel-2B Earth-observing satellite being lowered into Europe’s largest vacuum chamber, at the start of a test campaign to ensure it is ready to serve in space.

The satellite is now in ESA’s 15 m-diameter Large Space Simulator, where high-performance pumps will remove all air within the chamber to create an orbital-quality vacuum. Meanwhile, liquid nitrogen circulates through the black walls to mimic the cold of sunless space.

Sentinel-2B arrived by lorry on the night of 15 June, making the first time any of the Sentinel family of satellites serving the Copernicus initiative for global environmental monitoring has visited ESA’s technical heart, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

Sentinel travelled from Airbus Defence and Space’s Friedrichshafen facility in Germany, where it was first assembled and then all of its main elements underwent detailed testing.

Sentinel-2B is a twin of Sentinel-2A, launched a year ago. The two satellites together will provide global multispectral coverage, extracting valuable environmental data from the colours of land vegetation and coastal waters. They are equipped with laser communications to return data quickly to Earth.

The largest centre of its kind in Europe, ESA’s test facilities simulate every aspect of the space environment. Everything is housed under a single roof within a controlled cleanroom environment to avoid contaminating flight hardware.

A sequence of tests will be conducted on Sentinel-2B between now and the end of October.

The current thermal-vacuum testing will be followed by electromagnetic compatibility testing within the Maxwell chamber, to ensure the satellite can operate safely with its ground station – as well as with its launcher during its crucial first moments of life – without harmful interference.

Next, Sentinel will be blasted inside the Large European Acoustic Facility to simulate the extreme noise experienced atop the launcher during liftoff and its early climb to orbit.

A final set of performance tests will then check that all of its systems have survived exposure to these simulated mission environments.

Credit: ESA–G. Porter

Sentinel-1A and -1B combined
22-06-2016 01:49 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Sentinel-1A and -1B combined

This ‘interferogram’ combines a Sentinel-1A radar scan from 9 June 2016 over southern Romania with a Sentinel-1B acquisition from 15 June over the same area – shortly before Sentinel-1B reached its designated orbit. Bucharest is near the lower right corner of the image. The colour pattern is related to local terrain topography.

Read more: Sentinel-1 satellites combine radar vision

Credit: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016)/ESA/Norut

Sensing Orion
22-06-2016 10:53 AM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Sensing Orion

A test version of the European Service Module at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, USA. ESA’s module will power NASA’s Orion spacecraft to the Moon and beyond, providing propulsion, electricity, water, oxygen and nitrogen and thermal control.

This test article has the same structure and weight as the real thing but does not include the electronics and engines. It is being used to confirm the design before starting to build the flight version.

From a design perspective, the launch is one of the most demanding moments in a mission. Orion will sit atop the Space Launch System and more than 2500 tonnes of propellant. The vibrations and forces are intense until they reach the relative calm of space.

To ensure the service module can withstand these forces, it is placed on a large table that shakes and moves to recreate the vibrations of launch. Almost 1000 sensors monitor how the 35 tonne spacecraft flexes and withstands the stress. The blue wires carry the data during the tests for later analysis.

The tests are running smoothly and the first flight model is already being built in Bremen, Germany. It will be shipped to the USA next year for more testing and final integration ahead of launch at the end of 2018.

Credit: ESA–J. Harrod

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