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Proceedings Paper

PICARD payload thermal control system and general impact of the space environment on astronomical observations
Author(s): M. Meftah; A. Irbah; A. Hauchecorne; J.-F. Hochedez
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Paper Abstract

PICARD is a spacecraft dedicated to the simultaneous measurement of the absolute total and spectral solar irradiance, the diameter, the solar shape, and to probing the Sun’s interior by the helioseismology method. The mission has two scientific objectives, which are the study of the origin of the solar variability, and the study of the relations between the Sun and the Earth’s climate. The spacecraft was successfully launched, on June 15, 2010 on a DNEPR-1 launcher. PICARD spacecraft uses the MYRIADE family platform, developed by CNES to use as much as possible common equipment units. This platform was designed for a total mass of about 130 kg at launch. This paper focuses on the design and testing of the TCS (Thermal Control System) and in-orbit performance of the payload, which mainly consists in two absolute radiometers measuring the total solar irradiance, a photometer measuring the spectral solar irradiance, a bolometer, and an imaging telescope to determine the solar diameter and asphericity. Thermal control of the payload is fundamental. The telescope of the PICARD mission is the most critical instrument. To provide a stable measurement of the solar diameter over three years duration of mission, telescope mechanical stability has to be excellent intrinsically, and thermally controlled. Current and future space telescope missions require ever-more dimensionally stable structures. The main scientific performance related difficulty was to ensure the thermal stability of the instruments. Space is a harsh environment for optics with many physical interactions leading to potentially severe degradation of optical performance. Thermal control surfaces, and payload optics are exposed to space environmental effects including contamination, atomic oxygen, ultraviolet radiation, and vacuum temperature cycling. Environmental effects on the performance of the payload will be discussed. Telescopes are placed on spacecraft to avoid the effects of the Earth atmosphere on astronomical observations (turbulence, extinction, ...). Atmospheric effects, however, may subsist when spacecraft are launched into low orbits, with mean altitudes of the order of 735 km.

Paper Details

Date Published: 21 May 2013
PDF: 19 pages
Proc. SPIE 8739, Sensors and Systems for Space Applications VI, 87390B (21 May 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2010178
Show Author Affiliations
M. Meftah, Lab. Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales, CNRS (France)
Univ. Paris VI, Univ. de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (France)
A. Irbah, Lab. Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales, CNRS (France)
Univ. Paris VI, Univ. de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (France)
A. Hauchecorne, Lab. Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales, CNRS (France)
Univ. Paris VI, Univ. de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (France)
J.-F. Hochedez, Lab. Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales, CNRS (France)
Univ. Paris VI, Univ. de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (France)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8739:
Sensors and Systems for Space Applications VI
Khanh D. Pham; Joseph L. Cox; Richard T. Howard; Genshe Chen, Editor(s)

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