Satellite passes tests

A new disaster monitoring satellite has just passed stringent thermal vacuum tests at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.




A new disaster monitoring satellite has just passed stringent thermal vacuum tests at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.



The UK-DMC-2 satellite, funded and built by Surrey Satellite Technology, will join the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) to provide higher performance imaging capabilities. The four satellites currently in orbit allow daily imaging of any given point on the globe and have been successfully providing data and images in support of deforestation, disaster relief and agricultural monitoring.



The thermal vacuum tests simulated the extreme temperature and vacuum in which the satellite will operate in-orbit some 686km above the Earth. It was placed inside a 3m diameter tank and electronics were wired up before the doors were closed and the tank evacuated of air, leaving it in a vacuum. During thermal cycling the satellite was subjected to temperatures between 50°C and -20°C.



Rutherford Appleton Laboratory’s Graham Toplis said: ‘Satellites have to survive some pretty extreme conditions in orbit and tests like these are essential to check for any problems before launch. It is great to see that SSTL’s latest satellite is fighting fit and will soon be able to join the others in this important disaster monitoring network.’



The DMC has been used to provide images for dozens of situations including the 2007 floods in northern and south west England; the aftermath of earthquakes in Iran, Kashmir and Columbia; the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and boats trapped in Canadian ice floes in 2007. The UK owns one of the four satellites and investment from the British National Space Centre helped enable the DMC constellation.