The test model of the main thermal imager for the future European meteorological satellite Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) was immersed in Europe’s largest vacuum chamber to simulate space testing.
A test version was created in Thales Alenia Space. The flexible combined instrument (FCI) should provide the most up-to-date measurements of the Earth’s atmosphere using 16 visible and IR channels. The flight version of this instrument will serve aboard MTG-I satellites. These satellites will receive support in the form of additional systems in geostationary orbit to provide simultaneous vertical atmospheric profiles. The large space simulator is 15 m tall and 10 m in diameter. It is located in the ESA ESTEC Technical Center (Netherlands). Enough space for a double-decker bus. When the top and side hatches are sealed, high-performance pumps create a vacuum a billion times less dense than standard atmosphere at sea level. This state is held for several weeks. The sun simulator is also involved, and liquid nitrogen is pumped through the walls to recreate the spatial cold in the shade.