Mechanical laboratories

Hollow Cathode Neutraliser
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ESA Propulsion Laboratory

 

The ESA Propulsion Laboratory tests methods of controlling the motion of spacecraft once they have reached space. The violent firing of chemical rockets remains our sole route off the planet, but once up in orbit, the ability to produce precisely controlled, lower-energy thrusts becomes very important to meet mission goals.
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ERA flight model
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Automation and Robotics Laboratory

 

In one sense all unmanned missions can be considered 'robotic' spacecraft, but at ESA the term has a more specific meaning. Robot systems are those that have mobility and the ability to manipulate objects, plus the flexibility to perform these tasks autonomously or by remote control.
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Optics Laboratory

The work of the Optics Laboratory relates to optical systems –instruments or equipment based on the interaction of matter with light. The word 'optics' comes from the Greek for eye, but the Laboratory's testing extends beyond human vision, encompassing a wide range of electromagnetic radiation from thermal infrared to energetic ultraviolet wavelengths.

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Cross-section of laser beam
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Opto-Electronics Laboratory

Many of the tests carried out by the Opto-Electronics Laboratory take place behind strictly sealed doors, safely out of human sight. This is due to its specialised area of interest: the Laboratory investigates devices that convert electrical signals into light and vice versa, and is particularly active in the testing and assessment of high-performance lasers.

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Mechanical Systems Laboratory - Thermal Solar Vacuum Facility
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Mechanical Systems Laboratory

The Laboratory covers environmental testing in the thermal and mechanical domain for small scale space equipment and payloads. Experimental verification is a very valuable way for verifying and tuning specific industrial designs during development phases.

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The new Large Diameter Centrifuge at ESA-ESTEC
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Life & Physical Sciences, Exploration and Life Support Laboratory Facilities

These laboratory facilities are focused on research associated with the placing of life into space, including life support and experimental biological payloads. They play a similar role for in-orbit physical science experiments. They are equipped to investigate and test a wide variety of relevant factors, down to the prolonged effects of low- or hyper-gravities.

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External laboratories

ESA maintains a Europe-wide network of specialized laboratories supplementing the technical services and competence provided by the ESTEC laboratories and the ESTEC Test Centre.

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Last update: 16 April 2013

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