Author Topic: ESTEC, Noordwijk the Netherlands  (Read 6217 times)

Offline jacqmans

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ESTEC, Noordwijk the Netherlands
« on: 10/06/2020 10:25 am »
Produced for our online ESA Open Day 2020, a 19-part whistle-stop tour around ESA's largest establishment and technical heart: ESTEC, the European Space Research and Technology Centre, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.


« Last Edit: 04/28/2021 11:28 am by jacqmans »
Jacques :-)

Offline jacqmans

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Re: ESTEC, Noordwijk the Netherlands
« Reply #1 on: 04/28/2021 11:28 am »
Hot and cold space radio testing
28/04/2021

ESA’s newest radio-frequency test facility allows direct measurement of antenna systems in the very vacuum conditions and thermal extremes they will work in, including the chill of deep space. It will soon be put to work testing the Juice mission’s radiometer – destined to probe the thin atmospheres of Jupiter’s largest moons.

The recently completed facility is called the Low-temperature Near-field Terahertz Chamber , or Lorentz. Based at ESTEC in the Netherlands, it can test high-frequency RF systems such as stand-alone antennas and complete radiometers at between 50 to 1250 Gigahertz in space-quality vacuum for several days on end, in temperature from just 90 degrees above absolute zero up to 120 °C.

“There is nothing else like this in the world,” says ESA antenna engineer Luis Rolo. “It enables a whole new capability in RF antenna testing.

“The reason we need it is because key RF variables such as focal length and precision alignment are influenced by materials shrinking with cold or swelling with heat. Accordingly standard room-temperature testing is not representative in such conditions – to all intents and purpose they almost become like different instruments. This became obvious as long ago as the 2009 Planck mission, which operated at cryogenic temperatures to pick up microwave traces of the Big Bang.”

ESA antenna engineer Paul Moseley adds: “But while the need for such a facility is clear, designing, building and finishing Lorentz has proved extremely challenging. This is because while one side of the chamber reaches very high or low temperatures, the other side must stay at room temperature. The scanner acquiring RF signal power and field patterns has to be kept at steady environmental conditions to ensure reliable, cross-comparable data.”

Making Lorentz possible meant borrowing design techniques from cryogenic radio astronomy, along with in-depth advice from ESA thermal and mechanical experts:

“This is such a multi-disciplinary project, with so many new elements to us, as antenna engineers,” adds Luis “Throughout the installation and commissioning phases we had a remarkable support from people that have been working with cryo-chambers and complex mechanical systems for many years, such as the ESA and European Test Services thermal vacuum teams and of course ESTEC’s Electro-Mechanical workshop. Their support was very valuable and greatly appreciated.”

The facility is based around a 2.8-m diameter stainless steel vacuum chamber. Operating in vacuum meant the familiar spiky foam wall linings usually used to dampen reflected signals in RF test chambers had to be replaced due to the risk of ‘outgassing’ contaminants. Instead black carbon epoxy incorporating silicon carbide grains absorbs and scatter signals.

Liquid nitrogen can be pumped into the inner lining of the vacuum chamber to chill it, or alternately gaseous nitrogen to push up the temperature, typically targetting a steady ‘plateau’ for test purposes.

The test item itself can be rotated during testing as the scanner – its position controllable down to a few thousandths of a millimetre – records its signal from the other side of the chamber’s thermal barrier. Kept insulated by multi-layer insulation and an air gap, this thermal barrier is capable of moving to let the mobile scanner peep through, attaining a 70x70 cm field of view.

Lorentz’s chamber arrived at ESTEC last September. Months of work followed to integrate, test and finalise the facility. Test campaigns have already been carried out, reaching expected performance.

In May Lorentz will assess its first flight item: the Sub-millimetre Wave Imager radiometer of ESA’s Juice mission, which will survey the scanty atmospheres of Jupiter’s Galilean moons and their interaction with the Jovian atmosphere and magnetic field.

Development of Lorentz was supported through ESA’s General Support Technology Programme (GSTP), preparing promising concepts into usable products.
Jacques :-)

Offline tl6973

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Re: ESTEC, Noordwijk the Netherlands
« Reply #2 on: 04/28/2021 12:50 pm »
An amazing site... I went there for a few days in 2019 for the European Centre for Space Law's course on Space Law & Policy - feels like a million years ago!   

Offline jacqmans

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Re: ESTEC, Noordwijk the Netherlands
« Reply #3 on: 05/12/2021 11:35 am »
ESA's technical heart
12/05/2021

An aerial image of ESA’s technical heart, the European Space Research and Technology Centre, ESTEC, making it look as if you could pick it up in your hands.

Nestled beside coastal dunes in Noordwijk in the Netherlands, ESTEC is ESA’s largest establishment and hub of Europe’s space efforts. Combining the downward view angle with defocused surrounding terrain, known as ‘tilt-shifting’, makes the entire sprawling complex appear miniaturised.

On the dune side stands the main building, home to ESA laboratories and mission teams, distinguished by an almost 200-m long main corridor. The central white-hued lab building extends forward from it. The small white dome beside it houses ESA’s Large Diameter Centrifuge for high-gravity testing.

To the left of the main building is the restaurant and tower complex built by renowned Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck. On its right can be seen ESTEC’s Test Centre for full-scale testing of satellites, equipped with a suite of simulation facilities to reproduce every aspect of the space environment.

In front of the car park to the left is the three-block T-building, home to ESA’s Galileo team, in the centre stands the Erasmus centre for human spaceflight with the headquarters of ESA’s Technology Transfer and Patent Office beside it.
Jacques :-)

Offline jacqmans

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Re: ESTEC, Noordwijk the Netherlands
« Reply #4 on: 07/23/2021 01:40 pm »
Duneside view of ESA's technical heart
23/07/2021

A drone-snapped image of ESA’s technical heart, the European Space Research and Technology Centre, ESTEC. Nestled beside coastal dunes in Noordwijk in the Netherlands, ESTEC is ESA’s largest establishment and hub of Europe’s space efforts.

Beside the entrance stands the establishment's restaurant and tower complex built by renowned Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck. Beyond it is the main building, housing ESA laboratories and mission teams, distinguished by a 200-m long main corridor, leading to the rearward Test Centre for evaluating satellites and flight hardware.

Across the car park to the left is the three-block T-building, home to ESA’s Galileo team, with the Erasmus centre for human spaceflight behind it.
Jacques :-)

Offline jacqmans

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Re: ESTEC, Noordwijk the Netherlands
« Reply #5 on: 09/09/2021 08:41 am »
EC Commissioner Breton visits ESA-ESTEC
08/09/2021

European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton coming face to the face with the atomic clocks at the heart of Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system.

On Tuesday 7 September ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher took Commissioner Breton on a tour of ESA’s European Space Technology and Research Centre, ESTEC, at Noordwijk in the Netherlands.

Seen from left to right: Internal Market Cabinet Member Fabrice Comptour; ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher; Commissioner Breton and Andrea Contellessa, heading ESA’s Galileo Space Segment Management Office.

They looked in at ESTEC’s Navigation Laboratory, which includes the complete navigation module of a Galileo satellite, kept in cleanroom conditions for technical experiments and trouble shooting.

On the left side sits Galileo’s passive hydrogen maser atomic clock, sufficiently accurate that it would lose only one second over three million years. To the right is a rubidium atomic clock, which would only lose three seconds in one million years. Each satellite carries two each of these two clock types for maximum redundancy.

Commissioner Breton also inspected the six Galileo ‘Batch 3’ satellites currently being tested for space at ESTEC’s Test Centre, the largest satellite test facility in Europe. Two of these Galileo satellites are due for launch later this year.
Jacques :-)

Offline jacqmans

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Re: ESTEC, Noordwijk the Netherlands
« Reply #6 on: 09/15/2022 09:18 am »
ESA’s Test Centre expands

15/09/2022

At approximately 3000 sq. m in area, ESA’s ESTEC Test Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, is already the largest satellite testing establishment in Europe. Now it has grown even bigger, with the formal opening of a new 350 sq. m environmentally-controlled cleanroom beside it.

Formally known as the ‘FV’ cleanroom, it was declared open with a formal ribbon cutting by Marco Massaro, Head of ESA’s Estates and Facilities Management Division; Paulien van Essen, Regional Manager of lead builder Heijmans and Torben Henriksen, Head of ESTEC and ESA Director of Technology, Engineering and Quality.

“This is the most beautiful cleanroom we have on site,” commented Director Henriksen. “In our Test Centre there has been a shortage of cleanrooms for quite some time, especially with some programmes being based here for long durations – BepiColombo was here for some time, along with the Galileo satellites. So the need for expansion was clear.

“To start with an engineering model of the Smile satellite from China will soon be housed here, as well as several Galileo satellites. The construction process took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, so it was a long journey to get to this point, but I’d like to thank Heijmans for their diligent work.”

Most of the time the ESTEC Test Centre has multiple test items within its walls simultaneously. Complex planning and traffic management are necessary to ensure every project get access to the facility they need at the time they need it. So sufficient room is needed to accommodate the different satellites and allow their movement between test facilities.

The FV clean room will also host the ESTEC Test Centre’s sensitive micro-vibration measurement facilities, which are used to characterise the very low vibration generated by mechanisms mounted aboard satellites, made possible by a large seismic block beneath the building.

The next step will be to construct a corridor linking the FV cleanroom with the environmentally controlled main Test Centre building.
Jacques :-)

Offline jacqmans

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Re: ESTEC, Noordwijk the Netherlands
« Reply #7 on: 05/24/2023 10:49 am »
Mars corner
24/05/2023

A downward view of ESA’s rock-strewn recreation of the Red Planet, designed to put prototype planetary rovers through their paces.

Officially part of the Planetary Robotics Laboratory at the Agency’s ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the nickname of this test site is the ‘Mars Yard’.

An 9 x 9 m square filled with sand and different types of gravel and rocks, it is used to assess rover locomotion and navigation as well as the traction of wheels and other mechanisms – then check how these elements work together in practice, with tests observed using precision cameras and sensors.

The Planetary Robotics Lab is part of a suite of more than 35 ESA laboratories focused on all aspects of space engineering, available to wider European Member States companies as well as ESA projects.
Jacques :-)

Offline jacqmans

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Re: ESTEC, Noordwijk the Netherlands
« Reply #8 on: 08/16/2023 09:02 am »
Edge of earthquake zone
16/08/2023

As the earthquake-strength Hydra shaker table simulates the vibration forces of a rocket launch for satellite testing, it is only this concrete block and the dampeners and springs supporting it that prevent the rest of ESA’s ESTEC Test Centre from also suffering the shakes.

The most powerful and precisely controllable of the shaker tables ESA uses for satellite testing at its Test Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the multi-axis Hydra is capable of vibrating test items weighing many tonnes.

Seen from the cleanroom above, the hydraulically-powered Hydra appears to be simply 5.5 x 5.5 m aluminium platform lying flush with the floor. But this plate is only the top of an 18-tonne test table which is moveable using eight hydraulic actuators, in the same manner as a flight simulator machine.

This test table is enclosed within a 1400-tonne concrete ‘seismic foundation’ block, one corner of which is seen here. This block rests in turn on the set of springs and dampers seen at the bottom, which isolate it, preventing potentially damaging vibrations from spreading through the rest of the building.

Operated for ESA by European Test Services, the ESTEC Test Centre is the largest facility of its kind in Europe, providing a complete suite of equipment for all aspects of satellite testing under a single roof. You can visit ESTEC during this year’s ESA Open Day in the Netherlands, taking place on the first weekend of October.
Jacques :-)

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: ESTEC, Noordwijk the Netherlands
« Reply #9 on: 08/16/2023 11:01 pm »
I visited there in 2014.  Some great displays and friendly people.
Apologies in advance for any lack of civility - it's unintended

Offline Tommyboy

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Re: ESTEC, Noordwijk the Netherlands
« Reply #10 on: 08/17/2023 06:11 pm »
I visited there in 2014.  Some great displays and friendly people.
Can confirm. I was there a few years ago and there were a lot of passionate people willing to talk about that they are doing. I will be visiting it again this year.

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