From: Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS)
Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2003
Aiming to launch in the summer of 2005, scientists began designing the flight model and manufacturing some parts for the selenological and engineering explorer, SELENE. The structure model of the explorer completed mechanical environment tests in spring 2002, and the thermal vacuum test using the thermal model was conducted for 2 weeks from October 23, 2002 in the General Environment Test Building of Tsukuba Space Center.
For this testing, not only the model of the explorerís main unit but also 15 kinds of the instrument models developed by the instrument team were loaded. The right picture shows the thermal model waiting to be delivered to a large-scale chamber (diameter of 13m). Comprised of three satellites,SELENE is the largest explorer to be sent to the Moon by mankind after the Apollo project. Its large scale can be well understood when compared with the men shown in the picture. SELENE conducts three axes attitude control keep its onboard instruments facing the Moon.
To simulate the thermal conditions in this testing, IR panels that simulate infrared radiation from the Moon were installed on the side of onboard instruments and a solar simulator on the opposite side. The test verified the thermal mathematical model and confirmed the performance of thermal control system.
The SELENE mission plan that started as a joint project with National Space Development Agency in 1996 seems to have come close to its climax. Its next big step is the coupling tests scheduled in May 2003.
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