ESA’s most complex Earth Explorer mission undergoing test at Europe's largest satellite test facility
The Earth Cloud Aerosol and Radiation Explorer (EarthCARE) satellite, the European Space Agency's biggest and most complex Earth Explorer mission to date, is currently undergoing test at ESA's ESTEC Test Centre, the largest satellite test facility in Europe. The satellite will spend the next seven months at the test facility in the Netherlands to check every aspect of its readiness for space.
Recently, engineers unfolded this new satellite's huge five-panel solar wing to test that it will deploy correctly once it is in space. The solar wing will provide the energy for EarthCARE to do its job. The solar array deployment test will be followed by various vibration and thermal-vacuum tests.
Behold @esa EARTHCARE single 11 m-long solar wing🛰😍The solar wing deployment is just one of the many tests the satellite has to undergo to make sure it's ready to fly.Next on the list: vibration and thermal-vacuum tests. pic.twitter.com/j2Ub6kptYT— ESA EarthObservation (@ESA_EO) July 22, 2022
EarthCARE, a joint venture between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), will answer some critical scientific questions related to the role that clouds and aerosols play in reflecting incident solar radiation back out to space and trapping infrared radiation emitted from Earth's surface.
The satellite will carry two main instruments: a lidar to measure vertical profiles of aerosols and thin clouds, and a radar to measure vertical profiles of thick clouds and precipitation. These two instruments are the most advanced cloud and aerosol profiling instruments ever flown in space, according to ESA. The satellite's suite of sensors also includes two other instruments, a multispectral cloud imager and a broadband radiometer.