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  • richardmitnick 1:24 pm on October 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA Technology   

    From ESA: “Molten Metals in Spin Cycle on ESA’s Centrifuge” 

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    European Space Agency

    15 October 2014
    No Writer Credit

    The experimenters stared through bulletproof glass at the whirling 8 m-diameter centrifuge. Never mind the shaking or stirring of drink cocktails – what happens when you spin a cocktail of molten metal?

    cent
    Large Diameter Centrifuge

    ESA’s Large Diameter Centrifuge provides research teams with easy access to hypergravity. Based at ESA’s technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, it can spin at up to 67 revolutions per minute, producing gravity levels of up to 20 times Earth normal in the gondolas at the end of its four arms.

    This time around, one of the gondolas contained a special furnace filled with a molten combination of titanium and aluminium. After around an hour’s spinning, the alloy was allowed to cool and solidify over 15 minutes.

    Afterwards, the titanium aluminide was removed to see how the newly formed metal’s microstructure had been affected by a gravity level eight times stronger than Jupiter’s.

    “While lightweight, titanium aluminide is strong and corrosion-resistant,” explained Laszlo Sturz of the Access company, a spin-off of Technical University of Aachen in Germany, taking part in the research.

    fc
    Furnace cylinder

    “In particular, its strength increases with temperature, making it particularly promising for building aerospace and automotive engine elements as well as other moving parts.

    “Right now, titanium aluminide parts are cast in various ways, including centrifugal, where a ceramic mould is spun as the alloy cools. But such manufacturing follows a trial-and-error approach.

    “Our project aims at creating a detailed mathematical model of how solidification is influenced by changing gravity levels, to help in optimising future casting technology.”

    Gravity-driven convection in the molten metal influences the solidification: change the level of gravity and the microscopic alloy grains should change their size, too.

    While differing levels of hypergravity can been accessed through the ESA’s centrifuge, microgravity casting will be tested next year during the 10–15 minutes of weightlessness available on the flight of a suborbital rocket.

    sub
    Suborbital rocket furnaces

    A quartet of casting furnaces will be flown on the Maxus rocket.

    maxus
    Maxus rocket

    “This centrifuge campaign is also serving to qualify them for flight,” said ESA’s Antonio Verga.

    The challenge was to design a self-contained furnace that can heat up to the 1700°C required on the inside while its outermost skin remains at no more than 70°C.

    The chamber where electrical heaters melt the alloy is surrounded by ceramic heatshielding and buffeted by inert argon gas, with water coolant pipes threaded around the cylinder’s exterior.

    Temperature sensors will relay realtime data to eager researchers throughout the process.

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 1:49 pm on April 3, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ESA Technology,   

    From ESA: “Seeing green” 

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    European Space Agency

    3 April 2013
    No Writer Credit

    “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.

    test
    UV test facility at ESTEC

    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.

    Typically, such high-intensity radiation is used to perform lifetime testing, artificially ageing the test material to gain insight into how they will perform across a mission’s entire lifetime. In a couple of cases, there are indeed space missions that will have to endure comparable conditions for real.

    The facility has recently been used for screening and qualifying various materials for ESA’s 2015 BepiColombo mission to Mercury, as well as Solar Orbiter, which will venture even closer to the Sun after its 2017 launch.

    The materials being tested include solar cells, insulating white ceramics to cover the high-gain antenna that will return mission data back to Earth and high-performance thermal control material, such as specially tailored multilayer insulation and Nextel ceramic blankets.”

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA Technology


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  • richardmitnick 1:28 pm on March 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ESA Technology,   

    From ESA: “Holographic health check for space reflectors catching cold” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    4 March 2013
    No Writer Credit

    “ESA is applying digital holography to assess how reflecting antennas stand up to simulated space conditions. This novel technique can detect buckling on a scale of thousandths of a millimetre across the entire diameter of a precisely-machined large reflector.

    ESA and the specialist space test establishment Centre Spatial de Liège (CSL) in Belgium collaborated on the new digital holographic interferometry method, performing trial measurements on engineering models.

    graph
    Reflector shape change

    ‘Holograms are interference patterns of light recording the entire 3D structure of an object,’ explained Dominic Doyle of ESA’s Optics section.

    ‘In the past holograms were created using photographic plates, which was often a time consuming and messy process. These holograms are made with CCD imaging sensors instead, then analysed digitally in a computer processor. It is a quantitative process that picks out the very slight shifts we are looking for.

    ‘And, equally importantly, it can be practically carried out in the working environment of a test centre without the complicated infrastructure required by other measuring techniques.’”

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA Technology


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