What benefits does the Mechanical Systems Laboratory deliver?
The Laboratory participates to experimental verification activities which are essential for the independent thermal and mechanical performance assessment of ESA projects throughout all stages of their life cycle. This includes the testing of 'breadboard' prototypes, qualification models and flight hardware. The Laboratory supports the Agency R&D activities, in particular by rapid breadboard testing. Finally, it tests equipment for European industry.
The Laboratory team's expertise can also be harnessed to rapid investigation of thermal or mechanical anomalies affecting in-orbit missions, replicating problems on the ground as a basis for understanding and solving them.
The Laboratory participates in broadening the ESA working knowledge of extreme temperature operations.
For example, the Laboratory was involved in characterising the cryogenic behaviour of materials for the Herschel and Planck missions – the detector arrays of both satellites having being brought down to less than a degree of absolute zero. It is also supporting the James Webb Space Telescope and Gaia missions in a similar way. At the other extreme, it is supporting future missions to high-temperature environments including the Bepi-Colombo Mercury probe and the Solar Orbiter mission planned to go closer to the Sun than ever before.
Last update: 17 September 2009