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Astos Solutions participates in a multi-instrument airborne campaign to monitor the shallow re-entry of ESA's 5th, and final, Automated Transfer Vehicle over the south Pacific ocean. The goal of this mission is to better understand the physics of the end of life International Space Station de-orbit and the physics of shallow uncontrolled re-entries.

The instrument developed by Astos Solutions and that is called CEFIR is designed to observe the main re-entry object, focussing at fragmentation and explosion events. For the latter the number of created fragments and their induced velocities are of major interest.

In response to these goals, the CEFIR instrument consists of a Maksutov-Newton telescope with 1000mm focal length and a dual sensor camera with a dynamic range of 120dB. Due to its size and weight the telescope is stationary mounted. The tracking is instead realized with a 300mm flat mirror that is placed in front of the telescope and that is actuated by a gimbal. The gimbal motion can be either controlled by the operator via a joystick or automatically via a feature tracking algorithm that calculates the required gimbal motion to keep the object of interest centred in the field-of-view. In the latter case the operator can select the object of interest via a touch screen that shows the camera image. An auxiliary wide-field camera, whose view direction is co-aligned with the telescope via an additional secondary mirror, provides an overview of the complete scene, which is especially required for the initial acquisition of ATV5. Both, narrow-field and wide-field images are recorded by high-speed PC systems equipped with SSD raids. Each recorded image is stored together with time tag and the corresponding azimuth and elevation, whereas the system time is synchronized with the aircraft's GPS-based time server.

Impressions of the campaign

Below you will find photos made during the preparation of the instrument. For further information on the ATV-5 re-entry observation campaign, please visit the mission website.

CEFIR operator Ferdinand Fahlbusch prepares the CEFIR rack for the installation of rack PCs and displays.

Installation of the aluminium frame that rigidly connects the CEFIR components with the DC-8 fuselage.

NASA payload integration engineer Adam Webster and CEFIR principle investigator Sven Weikert installing the gimbal.

CEFIR installed on the NASA DC-8 scientific aircraft.

CEFIR operator Ferdinand Fahlbusch and CEFIR principle investigator Sven Weikert in front of the DC-8.

Ferdinand Fahlbusch in front of the CEFIR console while testing the manual tracking mode.

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