ESA Science Core Technology Development Success Story - First Proton Diverter Developed for the Space Sector [Aug/2022]
The spacecraft of ESA’s ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High
Energy Astrophysics) will be exposed to a considerable flux of charged
particles due to the mission’s large Halo orbit in L1. Indeed, the protons in
solar winds are in the energy range of X-rays, which is the spectrum of focus
for the telescope. These protons are thus expected to cause background
interference with the scientific measurements from state-of-the-art instruments
on board. One of the key projects funded under the Science Core Technology
Programme (CTP) to mitigate these interferences is the development of a set of
charged particle diverters.
This technology development demonstration project has been
undertaken by a Czech industry-academia consortium. It is led by
Frentech Aerospace, an industrial equipment supplier, who acts as the
manufacturer. It also includes Brno University of Technology (BUT), one of the
Czech Republic’s leading research institutions, which is in charge of the
magnetic design of the diverter, and L.K. Engineering (LKE), which specialises
in technical calculations for mechanical engineering, and is tasked with the
mechanical and structural design of the diverter.
A key benefit for the consortium members involved in the
project has been the development of new skills and capabilities needed to
address the implementation of a technologically-complex solution. The
participation of Czech organisations in the consortium developing a charged
particle diverter for ATHENA was an opportunity for the country to be involved
in a high profile, boundary-pushing flagship ESA Science mission from phase A
to flight model. Having Czech entities responsible for the development of a
high-tech component of ATHENA is particularly beneficial in increasing the
value-added to the national economy from its space domain.
Working on ATHENA’s charged particle diverter provides
critical early-career exposure to young professionals, which equips them with
key expertise and project management skills. This can be applied throughout
their careers, ensuring skills sustainability in the Czech space supply chain. Working
towards the sustainability and strengthening of skills and capabilities is
central to growing the Czech space sector.
The work undertaken by the consortium on ATHENA’s charged
particle diverter and the benefits outlined throughout the report contribute to
achieving the Czech Republic’s National Space lan. Key national strategic
- To have an international image of industrial and scientific excellence;
- To be a high value-added economy;
- To be competitive and innovative;
- To be capable of absorbing and retaining the intellectual capital created; and
- To be an example of an excellent complementarity and cooperation between industrial and academic tissues
The full case study report can be accessed in the restricted
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The infographics can be accessed in the restricted area here
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This initiative is led by ESA’s Science Core Technology
Programme. More information can be accessed at ESA
- Science Core Technology Programme (CTP).