ESA’s next CubeSat mission seen enduring the scorching heat of simulated atmospheric reentry inside the world’s largest plasma wind tunnel.
Equipped with a cork-based heatshield, titanium side walls and silicon carbide deployable panels, the QARMAN CubeSat survived six and a half minutes of testing inside Italy’s Scirocco Plasma Wind Tunnel
An arc jet using up to 70 megawatts of power – enough to light up a 80 000-strong town – converted air into hot plasma at temperatures of several thousand degrees Celsius, which sped towards QARMAN at seven times the speed of sound.
QARMAN is due to be deployed from the International Space Station in 2019. It will orbit Earth for around four months before reentering the atmosphere. It will survive reentry but not its fall to Earth. Instead its data will be transmitted to Iridium telecom satellites.