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Metis cap ejection test and door mechanism functional test

August 1-2, 2019

On August 1 and 2, the Metis cap ejection test was performed in conjunction with the external door mechanism functional test. Metis cap ejection is triggered mechanically by the opening of the external door. Sener (Spain) designed and built the door mechanisms for all the instruments, and the Metis cap.

The test was carried on in the Halle B cleanroom facility of IABG in Munich. Door opening and cap ejection were performed at the end of the activities on August 1.

Due to the high demanding requirements on particle cleanliness (no particles must be present with size above 100 μm), in the early morning of August 2, that allowed the settling of particles inside the clean room, the inner protective cap was removed, leaving Metis open for about 10 minutes, allowing inspection and cleaning in visible and UV light. Afterwards the ejectable cap was re-assembled and the door successfully closed.

This is the last mechanical test on the instrument before launch.

7th Metis workshop announcement

July 15, 2019

View of Palazzo del Bo in Padua (Italy), where the 7th Metis workshop will be held

On 11-13 November 2019, Padua (Italy) and its historical University will host the 7th Metis Workshop.

At a few months from the Solar Orbiter launch, this will be the best opportunity to meet and discuss about Metis science perspectives, in an environment full of art, science, and history.

The workshop will be devoted to a detailed introduction of Metis to the solar and the heliospheric community, in order to define the scientific planning strategy and to propose science with Metis and the Solar Orbiter, in synergy with other current and planned space missions, such as PSP, PROBA-3, Bepi Colombo, and ground based instrumentation.

Further information can be found on the workshop webpage.


Metis cap mechanism successfully integrated

October 29, 2018

The Metis cap release mechanism has been installed today. The cap is designed to prevent the deposition of dust particles on the IEO (Inverted External Occulter) edge and inside the instrument, during on-ground integration and test activities and during launch and early orbit phase.

The sealing cap ejection system is a one-shot mechanism planned for use at the very beginning of the mission, after the outgassing of the instrument. Afterwards, the Metis aperture will remain open; direct Sun-disk light protection will be provided when needed by closing the Solar Orbiter external door.

The Metis cap before integration of the door mechanism

Installation of the Solar Orbiter heat shield on the Solar Orbiter spacecraft

October 24, 2018

The Solar Orbiter heat shield before integration in the spacecraft

The heat shield has been installed successfully on the Solar Orbiter spacecraft, on October 24, 2018. This high-tech system, which is composed of several layers of titanium and an outer covering with a protective film developed specifically for Solar Orbiter, “Solar Black”, will guarantee the safety of the spacecraft instruments. The “sliding doors” on the heat shield will further protect the instrument entrance windows and optical elements.

“This is another big step in Solar Orbiter way to launch!” says Sandie Deslous, Airbus Stevenage (UK).

Solar Orbiter shipped to IABG in Germany for the final tests

September 18, 2018

“It's taken a little longer than expected but the Solar Orbiter probe is built and ready to begin testing. UK engineers are putting the finishing touches to the satellite this week before sending it to Germany to begin a year-long test campaign. Such attention to detail is necessary because of the punishing conditions the spacecraft will experience when studying our star's inner workings.”

Read the complete article on the BBC webpage and the interview to the Metis Co-I Vincenzo Andretta (INAF – Astronomical Observatory of Capodimonte, Naples) on Media INAF.

The convoy carrying Solar Orbiter, upon arrival at the IABG in Ottobrunn, Munich (DE)

6th Metis workshop announcement

September 14, 2018

After successful integration in the spacecraft, Metis is now undergoing spacecraft environmental tests. All activities are in line with the planned Solar Orbiter launch in February 2020 and with the start of its nominal mission at the end of 2021. Scientific planning of the mission is now becoming more detailed.

The 6th Metis Workshop will be devoted to a detailed introduction to Metis for all the potential users of the instrument and of Solar Orbiter, in order to define the scientific planning strategy and to propose science with Metis and other space and ground instrumentation. Half day will focus on science and a poster session is foreseen.

The meeting will be held at the Max Planck Institut für Sonnenforschung in Göttingen from 21 to 23 November, 2018, starting in the afternoon of 21st and ending in the morning of 23rd. For further information about the workshop and the meeting venue, please visit the workshop webpage.

The Max Planck Institut für Sonnenforschung in Göttingen (Germany), where the 6th Metis workshop will be held

Solar Probe on its way to the Sun

August 13, 2018

Eugene N. Parker, the ‘father’ of the solar wind, with Marco Velli, Parker Solar Probe Scientist and Metis Co-I, during the Probe launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

Parker Solar Probe has successfully initiated its fantastic journey to touch the Sun. In synergy with the Parker Probe, designed to explore on the ecliptic plane the innermost heliosphere and cross the solar corona itself in its journey around the Sun, Solar Orbiter, to be launched on February 2020, will explore the out of ecliptic heliosphere close to the Sun.

Metis has the capability, when allowed by the geometry of the orbits of the two spacecrafts, to image light the coronal regions crossed by the Parker Probe during its transit in the solar corona, thus measuring the overall properties of the plasma environment sampled locally by the Probe.

Panel mating onto the Solar Orbiter spacecraft

July 18, 2018

Last picture of Metis before panel mating onto the Solar Orbiter spacecraft at Airbus Defence & Space, Stevenage, UK. In order to preserve the high cleanliness standard of the instrument, the telescope entrance aperture is protected by a MLI (Multi-Layer Insulation) blanket, that will be removed afterwards.

“We will not see Metis anymore, but it will certainly show in space what it is capable to do!” says Marco Romoli, the Metis PI.

Last picture of Metis

Solar Orbiter without heat shield seen from the -Y face, the face in the direction of motion. Metis boom appears on top of the spacecraft


Ejectable cap installation on Metis

November 3, 2017

Metis ejectable cap

ISO 5 cabin used during the installation of the Metis cap at Airbus Defence & Space, Stevenage (UK)

On November 3rd at Airbus Defence & Space, Stevenage (UK), the Metis ejectable cap was successfully installed on the external occulter aperture of Metis, replacing the temporary cap that was protecting the entrance aperture of the telescope from particulate and molecular contamination.

The protective cap, designed and manufactured at Sener, Bilbao, will be ejected to space shortly after the spacecraft launch. The installation was performed in an ISO 5 specially built cabin with the participation of TAS-I cleanliness expert, Metis PI, and Sener mechanical expert.