A rear view of ESA’s single most powerful solar simulator.
An array of 19 xenon lamp modules, each consuming 25 kW, cast a concentrated beam of artificial sunlight into Europe’s largest vacuum chamber, the Large Space Simulator.
Part of ESA’s ESTEC Test Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the 15 m-high 10 m-diameter chamber subjects satellites to simulated space conditions for weeks at a time: deep vacuum, unfiltered sunlight and the chill of space recreated by liquid nitrogen being pumped around the walls.
Not all lamps are required to simulate the sunlight encountered at Earth orbit. But in order to recreate the challenging sunlight intensity encountered around Mercury, all the lamps are operated at maximum power and their usually cylindrical sun beam is slightly tightened.