This facility has been designed also to validate their performance by acquiring real-time data while they are operating in a simulated environment. In particular, the SpaceQ chamber will reproduce the environment of the Martian surface, mimicking the diurnal variation of temperature and the water cycle within an atmosphere of CO2. A unique feature of this chamber is that it includes connectors for USB and DB25 to read the data from the instrumentation while being tested inside. This will allow to validate the operation of the ExoMars instrument HabitAbility Brines Irradiation Temperature (HABIT). This new technological facility will be of interest for the Mars and Moon research community, as well as for instrument prototyping for the future exploration of space.
The chamber is now being commissioned by GAS PhD Student Abhilash Vakkada, with the collaboration of Edwin Bakker, from Kurt J. Lesker Company, an international company specialized on manufacturing of high-quality dedicated equipment such as this unique facility.
The SpaceQ Chamber has also been designed to test and qualify the behavior of certain components when exposed to thermal vacuum, outgassing, baking, low temperatures and dry heat microbial reduction procedures. This unique technical facility can operate at temperatures between -80°C to + 150 °C and pressures from ambient to < 10-5 mbar, allowing for injection of atmospheres of different gaseous composition, such as CO2 to mimic the Martian atmosphere. What makes this facility unique is that it can monitor the relative humidity (RH) within the thermal range -70°C to +180 °C, and within the pressure range from vacuum to 100 bar.
The SpaceQ chamber is a 30-cm cubical stainless-steel chamber that includes two quartz window viewports, thermocouple feedthroughs, a port for a UV lamp that can irradiate inside under vacuum conditions, a port for an IR spectrometer, pirani gauges for pressure monitoring, gas inlets, ports for a rotary and a turbo molecular pump.