Editor's Choice


maxon is flying to the sun

First Quarter 2020 Editor's Choice

The European Space Agency (ESA) wants to study the sun up close. Next month the agency will be launching the Solar Orbiter space probe. Scientists hope that the mission will provide them with new insights into phenomena such as solar wind, as well as the complex dynamics that are responsible for solar eruptions.

Solar Orbiter will fly within 45 million kilometres of the sun. At this distance, the side of the probe facing the sun will be exposed to intense heat, more than 500°C. A heat shield will protect the spectrometer-telescope for imaging X-rays (STIX), whose purpose is to study solar eruptions more closely and may even assist in predicting large scale eruptions in the future.

Swiss drives by maxon are among the components used in the X-ray telescope. Two specially modified DC motors with diameters of 13 mm move an aluminium attenuator, which slides in front of STIX’s 30 detectors as required. The micro drives are wired in parallel and can be used together or individually. This ensures that they run smoothly for the entire five years planned for the mission. The design is based on micromotors that will soon be used in ESA’s ExoMars Rover. The key factors when selecting the drives were their low weight, energy efficiency, and resistance to vibration.

Solar Orbiter is one of ESA’s flagship projects and has cost more than a billion Swiss francs. After its launch, the probe will journey for almost two years before it can start taking measurements.

For more information contact Hans Burri, DNH Tradeserve, +27 11 468 2722, hans.burri@dnhtrade.co.za, www.dnhtrade.co.za


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