24/7 Space News
Plato's structural test campaign
An engineer dressed in a blue lab coat and white hairnet looks upon the Plato's structural model inside the LEAF chamber in ESA's ESTEC Test Centre. Plato is put on top of a structure of four wheels. The LEAF room is green and has one wall with huge white holes in the wall. These holes are noise horns that can produce up to 156 decibels. The satellite is surrounded by microphones on sticks to measure the acoustic environment.
Plato's structural test campaign
by Agency Writers
Noordwijk, Netherlands (ESA) Jul 14, 2023

From May to August 2023 a structural model of ESA's next exoplanet mission, Plato, is undergoing a test campaign at ESA's ESTEC Test Centre, at Noordwijk in the Netherlands. Plato is planned to launch on an Ariane 6 in 2026. During lift-off Plato will have to withstand intense vibrations and immense blasts of noise. To make sure the satellite can survive the start of its journey to space, engineers test its structural integrity beforehand.

Structural model
The version of Plato undergoing these tests is not the satellite that will fly in space, but a detailed structural model used for testing the spacecraft during its development. The series of tests evaluate the qualification limits of the satellite structure to check if it can withstand the launcher's loads and minimise the risk to the real satellite.

Importantly, they also verify the interfaces between different parts, such as the sunshield and the satellite's main body, and between Plato's 26 cameras and the optical bench they are mounted on. This campaign was successfully finalised in the beginning of June.

Shake it up
During the first part of the test campaign, Plato's structural model was placed on top of two shakers, the Multi shaker and the QUAD shaker, to simulate the vibrations encountered during launch. The Multi shaker moved Plato in the left-right and forward-backward directions. The QUAD shaker, pictured below, simulated oscillations in the up-down direction. Together the shakers can test spacecraft up to 10 000 kg for vibrations in three dimensions. This series of tests was essential to make sure Plato can survive the first two minutes of launch, during which the most extreme shocks are encountered.

Acoustic tests
After the shaker test, Plato was moved to the Large European Acoustic Facility (LEAF), the green room in the pictures. In this chamber, the noise of a rocket taking off can be simulated. This large space measures 11 by 9 metres and is 16.4-m high.

One wall is equipped with multiple noise horns, that have a similar design as ordinary audio speakers. Nitrogen is shot through the horns and can produce noise up to 156 decibels. Meanwhile Plato itself was ringed by microphones, used to check the acoustic environment surrounding the model. During testing the LEAF's massive door stays shut and no one is allowed into the chamber: it is surrounded by a 0.5-m-thick layer of concrete to keep the noise in. Plato passed its noise test with flying colours.

Next step: testing the flight model
During the next two years, Plato's flight model, which is the real spacecraft that will fly into space, will be completed and tested. The flight model will go through various thermal and mechanical tests to make sure Plato will perform well and meet its scientific requirements.

Related Links
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
Study increases probability of finding water on other worlds by x100
Washington DC (SPX) Jul 11, 2023
A new analysis shows that there are probably many more Earth-like exoplanets with liquid water than had been thought, significantly increasing the chance of finding life. The work finds that even where the conditions are not ideal for liquid water to exist at the surface of a planet, many stars will harbour geological conditions suitable for liquid water under the planet's surface. Presenting the work at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Lyon, lead researcher Dr Lujendra Ojha (Rutgers Uni ... read more

Euclid's large halo around indefinitely small point

NASA expands options for spacewalking, moonwalking suits, services

Bursting the Bubble with Inflatable Habitats

Axiom Space Awarded Contract to Pursue Spacesuit Development for International Space Station

Rocket Lab readies launch of seven satellites from New Zealand

Rocket Lab to boost Synspective's satellite constellation with more launches

China's methane-fueled rocket achieves global first with successful orbital insertion

NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne put Gateway thruster system to the test

New study reveals evidence of diverse organic material on Mars

Earth and Moon seen from Mars

Planning Take Two: Sols 3885-3886

SHERLOC instrument offers new perspective on Jezero Crater, Mars

China Aerospace Foundation and Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization Sign Cooperation MOU

Tianzhou 5 reconnects with Tiangong space station

China questions whether there is a new moon race afoot

Three Chinese astronauts return safely to Earth

Viasat provides status update on ViaSat-3 Americas Satellite

China begins construction of ultra-low orbit satellite constellation

CASIC plans new satellite network by 2030

ITU Radio Regulations Board approves waiver for Rivada LEO constellation

New radar technique lets scientists probe invisible ice sheet region on Earth and icy worlds

Uniting Europe: DLR Spearheads Responsive Satellite Deployment Network

DARPA seeks input on novel methods to separate, purify rare earth elements

iQPS initiates a full-scale study to leverage SkyCompass-1 optical data relay service

Study increases probability of finding water on other worlds by x100

'Like a mirror': Astronomers identify most reflective exoplanet

Astronomers discover elusive planet responsible for spiral arms around its star

Preventing interplanetary pollution that could pose a threat to life on Earth and other planets

First ultraviolet data collected by ESA's JUICE mission

Unveiling Jupiter's upper atmosphere

ASU study: Jupiter's moon Europa may have had a slow evolution

Juno captures lightning bolts above Jupiter's north pole

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2023 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.