Monday, November 16, 2020
In the Institute of Solar Research, the team of the DLR Solar Furnace in Cologne exposed two special coated satellite mirrors of the French company SAFRAN Reosc to strong solar radiation to test their suitability for their use in space. These mirrors have to endure extreme light incidence during their operation inside the satellite. Two different mirror designs were radiated with artificial sunlight in the solar simulator. One of these designs is going to be built into the new weather observation satellite Meteosat Third Generation (MTG3) from the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). Starting in 2022, six of these new geostationary satellites are going to be recording weather data in space.
The scientists Gerd Dibowski and Christian Willsch used the High-Flux Solar Simulator in the Solar Furnace, Cologne. Over a period of six months they radiated both mirror designs to the extent of 14.000 light pulses. Each pulse was exactly 900 milliseconds long and had a radiation power of 600 solar constants. To keep the length of these pulses under one second the team developed a particular high-speed shutter with a radiation difference of only two percent.
In the Solar Furnace, the team of scientists mainly experiments with highly concentrated sunlight. However, scientists outside of the DLR and the industry have an opportunity to test and investigate materials and new technologies in the Solar Furnace. The Solar Furnace has also been used for investigations in space research for twenty years now. The t eam has already been able to prove themselves a valuable support in projects like Venusexpress and the Herschel Telescope, as well as in major projects like Bepi Colombo, Solar Orbiter or the Regolight Project, where they showed how to produce building material with a 3D-printing process for a habitat on the moon.