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Test engineer Laurence Levan is bathed in an intense green glow from powerful ultraviolet lamps simulating the unfiltered sunlight of space within a test chamber – the lamplight being in fact blue, but filtered through yellow screens to block the harmful ultraviolet rays.
This is the CROSS1 VUV-UV high vacuum chamber at work, based in the Materials and Electrical Components Laboratories at ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
The facility is used to recreate the space environment by attaining space-quality vacuum, while subjecting the test item to temperature extremes – ranging from -150°C to +400°C or higher – and exposing it to simulate ultraviolet solar radiation, up to 13 times the sunlight experienced by satellites in Earth orbit.