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Research

Research

Impact tests onto protective shields for the planned chinese space station TianGong

© Fraunhofer EMI

Fraunhofer EMI experimentally analyzes the protective shield concept for the planned chinese space station TianGong.

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3D printing for satellite technology

© Fraunhofer EMI

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.

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Deployable drag sail for nanosatellites

© Rocket Lab

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.

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ERNST - Technology development for the New Space

© Fraunhofer EMI

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. 

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Numerical analysis of satellite collisions in orbit

© Fraunhofer EMI

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.

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EMI togehter with ESA and NASA

© NASA
The Columbus module of the ISS.

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.

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Laser Interferometer Space Antenna: listening to space

© CC BY 4.0 – composition and rendering by University of Florida / Simon Barke is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution International license (CC BY 4.0)

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.

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DEM-O – meshfree discrete element methods to describe fragmentation events in orbit

© Fraunhofer EMI

Near-Earth space debris is a constantly growing hazard. Collisions between objects and active satellites can cause their failure or serious damage.

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Protecting spacecraft against space debris

© ESA

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

Examining impacts of celestial bodies

© Fraunhofer EMI

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

Deflection of asteroids

© Fraunhofer EMI

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

 

D-MEN: asteroid material for sample return

© Fraunhofer EMI

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