Testing Facilities and Cleanrooms
Before a space instrument can be delivered, many tests and qualifications are necessary. During these, the stresses the instrument will be exposed to space are simulated. Some of these tests are performed in so-called thermal-vacuum-chambers. Staff from the electronics laboratory oversees these facilities, equips them according to specifications, and operates them. During the tests, staff from the electronics laboratory assists in operating the testing facilities.
Among the 20 different thermal-vacuum-chambers there is a special one devoted to the characterization of optical detectors. This chamber is equipped with an illumination device working in the wavelength range between 250 and 1000 nanometers. The largest of the chambers has an inner diameter of 2 meters and a length of 5 meters. In addition, it is connected to a coelostat located on the roof of the laboratory building. By this means, the instruments in the chamber can be calibrated with real sun- or starlight. Further thermal-vacuum-chambers are available for long-term tests.
For integration and testing of scientific instruments as well as their components a clean environment is necessary. The soldering work stations for flight hardware, integration work stations as well as eleven of all in all 20 thermal-vacuum-chambers are therefore located within cleanrooms. In the field of space research, these cleanrooms are indispensable since even the smallest particles and minimal contaminations can falsify important results of planetary and solar system research.
The MPS cleanroom area encompasses approximately 1600 square meters; clean room classes range from ISO 8 to ISO 4. The concentration of particles in these rooms are constantly measured and monitored based on the standards DIN EN ISO 14644 and VDI 2083. In addition, there is an area classified according the GMP-standard of the EU, in which the contamination with microbes is also monitored. In the case of GMP cleanrooms, the emphasis is on microbiological and airborne contaminations. This is an important prerequisite for the participation in missions aiming, for example, to search for life on the surfaces of planets.
Before components are integrated in a specific space instrument, all flight parts (mechanical and electronical) are cleaned and baked according to special procedures at a designated cleaning work station.