NASA‘sÂ Marshall Space Flight CenterÂ is using aÂ 4-by-8-foot vacuum chamber to test components of a sensor package that will supportÂ theÂ planned 2018 Solar Probe PlusÂ mission thatÂ aims toÂ send a spacecraft into the sun’s atmosphere.
The agency said Tuesday theÂ High Intensity Solar Environment Test system works to simulate extreme conditions in space and subject test objects to artificial sunlight and charged particles as if they were near the sun.
“Space throws heat, it throws cold, it throws radiation, UV, plasma and more, all at one time and there are synergistic effects,” saidÂ Todd Schneider, a physicist at Marshall and principal investigatorÂ for the HISET technology.
For Solar Probe Plus, NASA is requiring theÂ integrated payload to withstand heat of approximatelyÂ 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, streams of charged particles and radiation blasts.
The agency added it is also using HISET to test the center’s Lightweight Integrated Solar Array and Transceiver project that looks to support power and communication needs of small satellites withoutÂ solar tracking systems.
Marshall’sÂ test facilities areÂ used byÂ theÂ Defense Department,Â federal agencies, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Laboratory, research organizations and commercial aerospace and satellite communications providers, NASA said.
The center’sÂ space environmental effects team also tests metals and materials used by the International Space Station, subsequently supporting futureÂ deep space and journey to Mars missions.