Kept isolated from the external Universe, a special ESA chamber simulates the boundless emptiness of space for testing satellite antennas. This chamber at ESA’s technical heart in the Netherlands is a crucial part of the Agency’s ability to check antennas attached to complete five-tonne satellites.
Metal walls block out all external electromagnetic signals such as TV and radio, radar and even mobile phone calls. And the chamber’s interior walls are clad with spiky ‘anechoic’ foam cladding to absorb radio signals internally.
A lot of internal noise is similarly absorbed – making for a notably hushed workplace as engineers prepare items for testing, most recently ESA’s latest Galileo satellites.
A pair of carefully shaped carbon fibre reflectors transforms the spherical expanding radio signals coming to or from the satellite into a straight signal beam as though from far away in space.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense