From ESA: “Spikes of silence”

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European Space Agency

Guus Schoonewille


These spiky foam wedges, seen here in ESA’s Maxwell test chamber, cover the walls of facilities that simulate the endless void of space.

This ‘anechoic’ foam absorbs radio signals, enabling radio-frequency testing without any distorting reflections from the chamber walls. In addition, it also absorbs sound – making these chambers eerily quiet places to work.

The Maxwell test chamber – part of ESA’s ESTEC test centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands – performs electromagnetic compatibility testing, ensuring all systems aboard a satellite can operate together without harmful interference.

Maxwell’s metal walls form a Faraday cage, screening out all external electromagnetic energy such as TV broadcasts and mobile phone signals.

ESTEC’s dedicated antenna test facilities – comprising the Hertz chamber for full satellites and the smaller Compact Antenna Test Range for antennas – are similarly fitted with metal walls and lined with anechoic foam.

See the full article here .

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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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