Postcards from Space: Our heritage on display
Marta Lebron, Marketing and Communications Officer, QinetiQ’s space business
Our space team visits the European Space Agency (ESA) – one of our main customers – on a regular basis. ESA has sites in several European countries, but the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, is the largest. It was here, on our most recent visit, that the team took some time to take a tour around the facilities.
The capsule in the top picture is the Foton 12, which was launched to space in September 1999. Foton 12 carried one instrument made by us: FluidPac (Fluid Physics Facility), a very complex and autonomous facility for fluid physics research in microgravity, which provided scientific data during the almost 15 days that the spacecraft stayed in space.
Later on, we had more experiments onboard other Foton capsules. The Foton M3 mission was launched in September 2007 from the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan with a Soyuz rocket. It spent 12 days in space after which it landed in the Kazakh desert. It carried 400 kg of European instruments to perform various scientific experiments. Among these were three instruments built by QinetiQ:
- Soret Coefficient in Crude Oils (SCCO)
The Soret Coefficient in Crude Oils instrument investigated the diffusion effects in liquids, which would enable us to determine whether it is worth exploiting an oil reservoir when new oil fields are discovered.
This biological experiment investigated the decalcification of bones in microgravity. Doctors were looking into more effective ways of combating osteoporosis, and this experiment shed some light on what the options would be.
This GRADient-Driven FLuctuation EXperiment contained two experiments in fluid science during microgravity.
It’s always nice to look at the past in search of inspiration and to remind us why we do what we do. Finding one of your projects exhibited at the technological centre of the European Space Agency certainly boosts your spirits!
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