Lens R&D is currently developing extended temperature sunsensors in frame of an ESA Artes 5.2 contract. These sensors are expected to show an unprecedented operating temperature range of -125C till +125C with the intention to even reach a -145C operating temperature.
These temperature ranges are required to operate a sunsensor directly on an extendable solar panel of geostationary satellites.
These satellites are know to have solar panels who’s temperature can go up to +110C at end of life and go down to -110C (at worst case eclipses that can last more than three hours) at the Beginning of live of the satellite a couple of days a year.
Extending the operating temperature to -145C will even allow to operate (without heating) on various exo-planetary science missions, missions to the moon or highly elliptic orbits.
Manufacturing Readiness Review has been successfully completed, and a parts are being manufactured at various places. The first parts received and first inspections performed have convinced us that we are on track to develop a sunsensor with an unprecedented temperature range that will open up new applications.
In order to limit program risks, some first order (brutal) testing has been performed on the prototype units like liquid nitrogen dipping.
The qualification units are expected to be ready by the end of November after which qualification testing is expected to last some 200 days due to the large temperature ranges and high number of thermal cycles involved.
Increased radiation tolerance obtained by increasing the window thickness from 0.65 to 2mm Sapphire (providing 3mm Al equivalent shielding) in combination with the radiation hardened photodiodes (that have been tested to 1.1Mrad at ESTEC and 10^16 1MeV electrons/cm2 at IRI will probably lead to a buy and forget type of sensor that can meet just about any mission requirement.
Calculated weight of the BiSon74ET-RH (with a 74 degree field of view in diagonal and 68 degree field of view on axis) is less than 25 grams.
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