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
New NASA study improves search for habitable worlds
20.10.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods
19.10.2017 | California Institute of Technology
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research