Pre-launch testing

OK, so I haven't been keeping the blog updated too much recently and that is because I have been kept very busy. In fact I haven't really been able to keep up with much of the news and have hardly had time to read Tom, Ian, Dave or Phil's blogs either. Instead, I've been helping to test some extremely sensitive scientific instruments that will be launched into space in a couple of years time.

It is amazing just how much testing is actually required to make sure everything works as well as it possibly can. Every single component has to be tuned and its response to different inputs carefully measured. There is a strong motivation to know everything you possibly can about the instrument's behaviour because once it is in space you can't really get there to fit a spare part. OK, that was done for the Hubble Space Telescope, but then that is only a few hundred kilometers up. This instrument will be placed 1.5 million kilometres from the Earth; quite a bit beyond human spaceflight (even beyond human spaceflight of the 1970s).

The tests are pretty intensive with many tens of people involved from many different countries. It is a great environment to work in as everyone is pulling together to get everything done. Plus, northern Italy does a pretty good job on the pasta and gelato fronts. Anyway, I should really get back to work and generate some reports for tomorrow.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Thursday 27th Jul 2006 (20:08 CEST) | Permalink
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