Imperial College Space and Atmospheric Physics

News Page

 October 2002

This month's news stories:

Double Star Testing at IC

This month's news.......

Test Room

CSSAR Equipment and the Imperial College magnetometer (bottom right) on the test-bench, room 737 Blackett.

Double Star Instrument Testing at IC

In July 2001 the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Chinese National Space Agency (CNSA) signed an agreement to develop a joint project called 'Double Star' (ESA news item, CNSA news item). This agreement was designed to promote reciprocal cooperation between space scientists in Europe and China, and also to pave the way for future comprehensive collaboration between the two agencies.

A key aspect of ESA's participation in Double Star is the inclusion of five scientific instruments from European institutes. These instruments, such as the Fluxgate Magnetometer (FGM) from Imperial College London, will be very similar to the equivalent instruments flown on Cluster. Double Star carries an additional complement of instruments from the Chinese Centre for Space Science and Applied Research (CSSAR).

Team Photo

The teams from CSSAR, Imperial, MSSL and Astrium GmbH

Some of the European instruments are in fact 'spare' units from the Cluster mission. Since the development timescale for Double Star is very short (in order to allow for launch and operations in parallel to Cluster), the European teams suggested to hold tests of their instruments versus the Chinese spacecraft data and power systems immediately. This has become known the 'pre-integration' phase, and Imperial College was selected by ESA to perform this activity.

To realise this, the Physics Department offered the seminar room on level 7 Blackett, which has been converted into a temporary laboratory. This currently accommodates the five European experiments, the spacecraft systems from CSSAR, plus all the test equipment needed for the job. In total, the team of European and Chinese engineers working on the pre-integration at Imperial numbers about 50!


At a reception in the level 8 lounge, we presented each of our Chinese guests with a memento of their visit to Imperial!

Activities started on 16th September, with the arrival of the CSSAR spacecraft systems and the first test with the FGM Instrument. Over the subsequent four weeks, the rest of the European instruments have been integrated into the system, culminating in system-tests to verify the correct functioning of all the equipment in 'mission representative' modes. We have received a number of guests to observe the tests, including the ESA Director of Science, David Southwood, and a delegation from the Chinese embassy in London.

All teams have expressed their satisfaction with the tests and the activities have proceeded in a great spirit of cooperation, which we all hope bodes well for the future!

Chris Carr 9th October 2002

The Double Star Integration Team at Imperial College:

The European Instruments:

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Revised 2nd November 2002
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