The Solar Orbiter mission aims to address the big questions of our solar system – how planets are developed, the emergence of life and the origins of the universe through solar and heliospheric physics. The orbiter itself is a Sun-observing
As we are currently in the middle of British Science Week we thought it would be a great time to look back at our small but significant involvement in the prestigious Solar Orbiter mission….
The Solar Orbiter mission aims to address the big questions of our solar system – how planets are developed, the emergence of life and the origins of the universe through solar and heliospheric physics. The orbiter itself is a Sun-observing satellite which has been developed by the European Space Agency (with participation from NASA) and will observe the Sun, moving as close as ~60 solar radii (RS), or 0.284 astronomical units (au), placing it inside Mercury’s perihelion of 0.3075 au. It was launched in February in Cape Canaveral from the Atlas V 411 launcher and has recently sent its first data back to earth.
Reaction Engines was honored to play a role in this mission by working with ESA partners Airbus, Sener and Irap to bake out vital components of the orbiter that will experience extreme temperatures.
Jon-Jordan Cooper, manufacturing and operations manager of Reaction Engines, had this to say:
“We were extremely pleased to be able to demonstrate the cleanliness, thermal uniformity and stability of our vacuum furnace through this prestigious project with the use of witness plates to qualify the process. After a representative cycle, the plates underwent analysis for parts per million of contamination. The results showed not only where they below the limit but were non-quantifiable down to ng/cm2. This qualified us to bake out critical components which will see elevated temperatures due to the radiation emitted from the Sun. When specifying the vacuum furnace for our advanced heat exchangers, we never imagined it would would lead to bake out cycles for satellite components. We are pleased to have been able to assist Airbus and ESA in this challenging programme and also to have grown our capability for high quality sub-contract vacuum heat treatment.”
This Solar Orbiter could be significant in unlocking the answers to questions that scientists have been pondering for generations and we are very proud to have played our part in this historic mission.
For more information about the Solar Orbiter mission, visit the ESA website here: https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/Solar_Orbiter
Photo credits: ESA – S.Corvaja