The photographer who took this enigmatic picture inside ESA’s Maxwell Test Chamber – used for assessing the electromagnetic compatibility of entire satellites – has been shortlisted by the Sony World Photography Awards for architecture and still-life photography.
Once the chamber’s main door is sealed, Maxwell’s 9 m-high metal walls form a ‘Faraday Cage’, blocking electromagnetic signals from outside. The ‘anechoic’ foam pyramids covering its interior absorb internal signals – as well as sound – to prevent any reflection, mimicking the infinite void of space. Then a satellite can be switched on to detect any harmful interference as its various elements operate together.
Portuguese-born Edgar Martins collaborated closely with ESA to produce a comprehensive photographic survey of the Agency’s various facilities around the globe, together with those of its international partners.
The striking results were collected in a book and exhibition, The Rehearsal of Space and The Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite.
Characteristically empty of people, Martin’s long exposures on wide film possess a stark, reverent style. They document the variety of specialised installations and equipment needed to prepare missions for space, or to recreate orbital conditions for testing down on Earth.