The Hubble space telescope
The power for Hubble’s scientific discoveries comes from solar cells. Designing and constructing Hubble’s first two sets of solar cell arrays constituted a huge technological achievement for the European Space Agency and European industry. After an in-orbit life of more than 8 years, this example of pioneering space technology was this morning (European time) replaced by new, more powerful arrays.
For the last week a dedicated team of engineers, technicians and scientists from the European Space Agency (ESA) has been focused intensely on the exchange of the solar arrays on the ESA/NASA Hubble Space Telescope. Based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, which is the nerve centre for these operations, the team has spent an intense few days supporting NASA in the exchange of the solar arrays.
Team leader, project manager Ton Linssen from ESA’s Science Directorate at ESTEC, the Netherlands, explains: "The new arrays are yet another step in the longstanding, international partnership between ESA and NASA. ESA provided the first two sets of solar arrays, and for the third pair ESA and European industry designed, developed and tested the drive mechanisms which manoeuvre the arrays so that they stay pointed at the Sun. ESA was also involved in a unique testing of the new arrays in October 2000, which had never been done before. In the huge test chamber at ESTEC the rapid temperature change around sunset and sunrise in orbit can be simulated and any, even very small, movement of the arrays can be measured. Our facility is the only place in the world where this can be done."
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