3D printing (additive manufacturing), with its enormous freedom of design, allows the realization of highly individualized and compact design solutions for nanosatellites. At Fraunhofer EMI, design methods and concepts are employed and developed in order to implement application-specific nanosatellite structures.
Satellites have to be removed from orbit after the end of mission. In this case, a satellite requires a de-orbiting device for the maneuver. At EMI, we are developing such a device for our nanosatellite ERNST.
The space technology industry is currently undergoing major changes, which are termed “New Space” by its protagonists. These changes, propelled by considerable private investments, include the implementation of large constellations of small serially produced satellites.
Space debris moves at a high orbital speed and presents a destructive risk for satellites. For the risk assessment for space missions, simulation methods for tracking the amount of space debris are used that are based on empirical databases and estimations. At Fraunhofer EMI, numerical methods for the virtual simulation of complex collision events in orbit are developed in order to gain a better and more realistic understanding of the risks.
On September 5, and two weeks later on September 21 and 22, 2018, the outer hull of the Columbus module of the International Space Station (ISS) was visually inspected. These robotic camera screenings were the first systematic inspection since the module has been docked to the ISS more than ten years ago. The survey data will be utilized by Fraunhofer EMI and its project partners to improve our knowledge on the space debris population.
The planned Laser Interferometer Space Antenna LISA is the next big step in the exploration of gravitational waves. LISA is supposed to detect them via a space-based configuration, as opposed to an Earth-based one. In order for the LISA mission to achieve the desired measurement accuracy, the satellites must not disturb their enclosed, but free-floating test masses. In order to determine the influence of such impacts on the sensitive attitude control of the LISA satellites, the fragments ejected uprange or against the impact direction are of great importance. For the characterization of these fragments, an optical tracking technique developed at EMI will be used that allows determining the size and velocity of the ejected fragments.
Fraunhofer EMI disposes of long-term experience in analyzing hypervelocity impacts on components of spacecraft. In the 1980s, for example, we designed and tested a protection shield for the Giotto space probe which protected various components at the surface of the probe against the bombardment of dust particles of the comet Halley. Read more
Impact cratering is a fundamental geological process. At Fraunhofer EMI, we use experimental methods to analyze those physical processes which occur under impact of celestial bodies. During these experimental examinations, projectiles are accelerated by means of two-stage light-gas accelerators to velocities of up to eight kilometers per second to have them impacted on rock samples. Read more
The Earth, like other planets and moons, is exposed to a risk of impacts by celestial bodies, e.g., asteroids that are on a collision course and may hit the Earth’s surface. Because of the involved great masses and extremely high collision velocities, such an event can have enormous destructive power. In order to prevent a collision, the approaching asteroid could timely be redirected to a slightly different orbit by the impact of a spacecraft which functions as a kinetic impactor. The hypervelocity-impact laboratories of Fraunhofer EMI are experimentally investigating the achievable change in momentum for asteroids based on their structure and composition. Read more
Fraunhofer EMI developed the D-MEN sampling device for extracting asteroid material. On board an asteroid lander, D-MEN collects material from near-Earth objects and stores the samples for their return to Earth. Read more