Planck Activities at CSL
14 May 2008Wednesday, 23 April 2008, the Planck spacecraft arrived at Centre Spatial de Liège (CSL) in Belgium. After unloading and opening of the transport and storage container, the flight model spacecraft was carefully rolled out on the container trolley. At the CSL facilities, Planck will go through its final thermal and cryogenic spacecraft system test campaign over the course of several weeks.
The images below show the spacecraft inside the cleanroom standing next to the FOCAL-5 vacuum chamber that will be used for the thermal and cryogenic testing. Within the cylindrical chamber is a closed eight-sided tube: the thermal tent. This tent surrounds the spacecraft when it is inside the vacuum chamber and its design allows for cryogenic temperatures down to the operational temperatures of the detectors of a tenth of a degree above absolute zero to be reached within the tent at the focal plane of the telescope.
Prior to the test with the Planck flight model spacecraft, a blank test of the FOCAL-5 vacuum chamber has been performed to verify the facility is fully ready to support the thermal balance / thermal vacuum test campaign. The objective of the campaign is to demonstrate that the spacecraft systems operate as expected under cold vacuum conditions that simulate those encountered in space.
As this test is performed without Sun simulation the thermal behaviour of the solar array is simulated by a structure and thermal dummy of the solar array, consisting of the same type of panels without solar cells installed but with extra heaters remotely controlled by an external thermal control system.