The coordinated measurements of the two RBSP spacecraft will advance our understanding of space weather and the sun’s influence on the Earth and near-Earth space by probing the planet’s radiation belts, which affect space weather and spacecraft operations.
Beginning the first week of December, RBSP will embark on a space environment test campaign that will last into March 2012. The RBSP team will subject the spacecraft to physical simulations of the stresses of launch and harshness of space operations, but in a controlled test facility where engineers can monitor the spacecrafts’ condition.
“These are complex spacecraft, each with five very sensitive scientific instruments on board,” says Jim Stratton, mission systems engineer for RBSP at the Applied Physics Lab. “The environmental tests are designed to really subject the spacecraft and systems to realistic, challenging conditions and make sure they are ready to fly.”
The first test will simulate the incredibly loud noises generated during launch and the beginning of supersonic travel, when the launch vehicle passes through the sound barrier (approximately 770 miles per hour). These sounds, which can reach a maximum of 134 decibels (nearly as loud as a jet engine from 100 feet away), will be duplicated by a specialized speaker system that is controlled via computer to match the sonic profiles of launch and supersonic barrier breakthrough. The RBSP satellites will be mated together and placed at the center of a circular wall of powerful loudspeakers for this test.
One of the substantial challenges for the probes is that they must survive launch as a single unit; later, above Earth, they will be separated and guided to their individual orbits.RBSP will next undergo a vibration test. The spacecraft are mated together again and placed on a special table that will shake them to simulate the intense physical effects of launch, and make sure the probes’ systems and electronics are secure and will operate post-launch.
In January 2012, the spacecraft will undergo an electromagnetic compatibility and interference test. This involves turning on all of the spacecrafts’ internal systems without any external power or grounding to verify there are no electronic issues, and that RBSP can successfully perform its science-gathering mission.
RBSP will enter thermal vacuum testing in APL’s test chambers in February. For five weeks, the craft will endure heating and cooling cycles in a vacuum environment; during the lengthy testing, RBSP will also undergo a 10 day-long mission simulation. After that, in May 2012, the completed RBSP spacecraft are scheduled to leave APL and travel south. “The next six months are all about continuing the tremendous efforts of the outstanding team we have assembled for this mission,” says Rick Fitzgerald, program manager for RBSP at APL, “and getting ready to ship the spacecraft to Florida.”
RBSP is scheduled for launch no earlier than Aug. 15, 2012, from the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. APL built the RBSP spacecraft for NASA and manages the mission. The RBSP mission is part of NASA's Living With a Star program, guided by the Heliophysics Division of the NASA Headquarters Science Mission Directorate in Washington.The program explores fundamental processes that operate throughout the solar system, in particular those that generate hazardous space weather effects near Earth and phenomena that could affect solar system exploration. Living With a Star is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
Learn more about the Radiation Belt Storm Probes, and see photos and videos of space environment testing, at http://rbsp.jhuapl.edu.
The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology.
Geoff Brown | Newswise Science News
Further reports about: > Applied Physics > Applied and Environmental Microbiology > Earth's magnetic field > Environment > Living Lakes-Konferenz > NASA > NASA’s Kepler Mission > Radiation > Space > Space Weather > electromagnetic compatibility > solar system > spacecraft operations > sun’s influence > test facility
Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems
08.12.2016 | Nagoya Institute of Technology
Will Earth still exist 5 billion years from now?
08.12.2016 | KU Leuven
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Life Sciences
08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences