Extreme performance requirements, severe power and mass constraints, long mission durations combined with a harsh environment, that is what makes things different from most terrestrial applications. Scientific space instruments are our very core business since the beginning more than 35 years ago. And it's not only our business -- we love to develop systems that expand your knowledge about space.
The following example projects illustrate our flight heritage of instruments in space.
The COSIMA instrument is built by the company vH&S as prime contractor to the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching.
The Max Planck Insitute for Solar System Research, Göttingen, has the scientific lead for the COSIMA experiment.
On February 7, 1999 the NASA spacecraft Stardust was successfully launched with the primary goal to analyse dust of volatiles from Comet P/Wild 2 and from interplanetary space and to return samples to Earth. The Cometary and Interstellar Dust Analyser (CIDA) mounted on the spacecraft is a time-of-flight mass spectrometer analyzing in-situ the chemical composition of dust by the ions created at the impact of the particles onto a silver target. The impacting particles have velocties of up to 80 km per second and are therefore broken up into ions and molecular fragments during the impact. The high velocity of the particle impacting on the silver target of CIDA, causes the different elements to transform into "ions", i.e. hydrogen transforms into hydrogen ions. Since ions are "charged" they can be accelerated by high voltage electrical fields and then travel over a certain distance till they hit a detector. The time of this flight is depending on the mass of the individual type of ions: hydrogen is the lightest element (mass 1) and therefore arrives first at the detector. Iron is heavier (mass 56) and therefore arrives later. Thus the time of flight depends on the individual mass, and the measurement of the different times of flight gives therefore the elemental composition of the dust grain that has hit. By this method, CIDA can determine the elemental composition and the original mass of the individual dust grains.This instrument, built by vH&S under contract with DARA, will not only be operated at the flyby at comet Wild 2 in 2004 to analyse cometary dust, but also during certain periods of the cruise phase, in order to analyse interstellar dust grains in real time.
The Lyman-Alpha Detector (LAD) experiments will provide knowledge of neutral hydrogen density in the geocorona extending into the magnetosphere. This set of actually two LAD instruments is a german science contribution from the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität, Bonn to the american TWINS mission. The Principal Investigator in Germany is Professor Dr. Hans-Jörg Fahr.
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Plasma image courtesy DLR Germany. More infos to come ...
The ROKVISS stereo camera is built by the company vH&S in cooperation with the DLR, Berlin.