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Spiky foam covers the walls of the Maxwell Test Chamber, used for assessing the electromagnetic compatibility of entire satellites.
Maxwell’s 9 m-high metal walls form a ‘Faraday Cage’, blocking electromagnetic signals from outside. The ‘anechoic’ foam pyramids lining these walls 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.
Maxwell is part of ESA’s ESTEC Test Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the largest satellite testing establishment in Europe.