EuTEMP, developed by EFACEC, will be the first Space Hardware completely developed in Portugal to ESA (European Space Agency). The qualification tests according to ESA requirements, took place in November at ESTEC (European Space Research and Technology Centre) in the Netherlands. EuTEMP will be installed on the external part of Columbus the European laboratory in the ISS (International Space Station). It will monitor autonomously the temperature of the External experiences platform (EuTEF), dedicated to the demonstration in orbit of space technologies.
EFACEC demonstrated the capacity to concept and build complete Space equipment in Portugal, according to the Space Standards.
Portugal joined ESA as a member state in 2000. It was created a Task-Force ESA-Portugal, with the mission to support the integration of Portugal on ESA activities during the transition period, which ends in 2007. One of his missions is to promote the Portuguese industry onto the Space market.
The EuTEF platform was developed under the R&D Technological programs of ESA. The EuTEMP project was totally funded by the Task-Force ESA-Portugal.
EFACEC, international group known by their technological know how in the various fields of electro-technical, electronics, mechanics, and systems engineering, is one of the Portuguese companies more involved in the activities to develop equipments to ESA and is the biggest group in the electro-technical market in Portugal.
What is the importance of EuTEMP?
EuTEMP is a measurement unit that acquires temperatures, with small dimension, autonomous feed by batteries, build to resist to extreme temperatures of Space environment, at least for several days after launch. EuTEMP will transmit its data to Earth through Columbus on the International Space Station.
The requirements that EuTEMP shall obey are the following: Safety requirements and qualification by ESA and NASA; Support extreme temperatures; Efficient integration with the EuTEF platform.
The role of EuTEMP will be fundamental during the installation of EuTEF on the Columbus. At that stage a critical phase will occur, called the transference phase, where heaters are switched off and the thermal control can only be achieved by passive means. During this phase, whose duration depends of the complexity of the units to install, the temperature can drop to very low values. The Space environment is very aggressive due to the absence of atmosphere and gravity and to the levels of solar radiation. Temperatures can vary very fast from extremely cold (-140ºC) when the equipments are in shadow, to very hot (+400ºC) when exposed to the sun.
In spite of the simulations that take in consideration the thermal fluxes, the emissive characteristics of the surfaces and to the thermal inertia of the masses, unpredictable situations can occur. Therefore there is the need of monitoring the temperatures of the several instruments that compose EuTEF.
EuTEMP was build to stay three years in Space and return to the Earth with EuTEF. To that purpose it must have some tolerance to radiation, in spite of the Space Station radiation environment being one of the less hostile in Space.
EuTEMP was developed with the capacity to be autonomous, equipped with batteries for at least 10 days. It is able to record temperatures for a month and later transmit the recorded values to the Earth, through the communications link according to the MIL-STD-1553 bus of EuTEF-Columbus on the International Space Station.