ENP Newswire -
Release date- 20122013 - The Gaia scientific mission of the
One hour and a half after the launch, the sunshield that protects the satellite from the solar radiation has deployed successfully. This structure has been designed, integrated and verified by the engineering and technology group SENER that has also been responsible of the M2M device which allows the telescopes to focus and includes a precision mechanism and its associated electronic circuitry.
The sunshield has deployed in only 9 minutes and will stay like that during the whole mission. In these moments the satellite travels to the L2 point, located 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, from where it will carry out its observations. It will take around four weeks to arrive there and another three months - a period in which Gaia will be adjusting its instruments - to start sending to the Earth the first scientific data. These data will be analyzed by the
According to SENER's Space Director,
The sunshield is the spacecraft's largest component, with 125 kg weight and 10,4 meters in diameter. This device has no technological precedents; never before has a synchronously deployable thermal shield of this size been built for a spacecraft. It has been designed to provide a low temperature environment for the satellite's instruments and ensure the thermal stability of the optical components, in order to guarantee precise focusing of the telescopes. To ensure its performance, the surface of the sunshield must be fully tensed when deployed; any wrinkles or imperfections can result in a difference in the thermal gradient for a given area of the satellite. Besides, a series of solar panels placed on the Sun-side of the satellite provide Gaia with electricity.
SENER has also developed the positioning subsystem for the telescopes' secondary mirrors, known as M2M. This device connects the reflecting mirror to the optical bench and contains both the M2MM and the electronic unit, known as MDE. The M2MM is one of the most critical precision mechanisms as it corrects any misalignments in the telescope, especially those that may occur after launch. This adjustment is performed automatically by way of an on-board computer.
During five years, Gaia scientific mission will observe and catalog a billion stars, 1% of those populating the
With 45 years of experience, the technology group SENER has become an international benchmark company in Aerospace, among other fields of activity. The company is distinguished by its ongoing encouragement for innovation and offers engineering and manufacturing services for the Space industry in three areas: mechatronics; guided, navigation and control (GNC) systems and optical systems.
Today, the company is a global leader, with over 253 flight models delivered for 59 satellites or Space vehicles to date for the Space agencies of the US (NASA),
Tel: (+34) 91 807 7318
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