Satellite trials

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is testing two disaster-monitoring satellites at its Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.

The NigeriaSat-2 and NX satellites are owned by the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) and will be used to monitor disaster areas throughout the world in the event of a large-scale catastrophe.

The work forms part of the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC), which is due to be launched by Surrey Satellite Technology next year. The aim of the DMC programme is to supply satellites that can provide high-resolution photos on a daily basis at any given point on the globe.

Testing will involve simulating the vacuum conditions outside the Earth’s protective atmosphere, where the air pressure is less than 0.01 per cent of that on Earth, as well as the operating temperatures the spacecraft will experience.

Giles Case, from STFC’s Space Science and Technology Department, said: ‘The testing of equipment destined for space is essential to ensure it operates successfully when it gets there and for as long as possible afterwards, to maximise the scientific and technical return.’

Once tests are complete, NigeriaSat-2 will undergo electro-magnetic compatibility (EMC) tests before both spacecraft are checked out and stored at SSTL’s Guildford facility.