XMM takes pictures of itself!
10 December 1999The XMM spacecraft, launched on 10 December from Kourou, has sent back pictures of itself in space.The photographs were taken by two micro-cameras placed on the exterior of the spacecraft's focal plane assembly. Provided by Optronic Instruments and Products (OIP) - Delft Sensor Systems, and IMEC, Belgium, the two cameras (10 x 6 x 6cm) each weigh but 430 grams.
The cameras are of two types: the FUGA camera has a logarithmic response, with a high dynamic range, providing a black and white picture. The exposure time of the second IRIS camera with a colour filter, can be modified. The field of view of both cameras is fixed (approx. 400 x 290), giving a view along the telescope tube towards the service platform and the solar arrays.
These pictures were taken just under five hours after liftoff, at 19:25 UT (20:25 CET). XMM was then at an altitude of 55,300km above the Earth's surface. Because of constraints due to the spacecraft's orientation at this time, the cameras could not have a view showing our planet.