Paper models, photos and musings of a Paper Kosmonaut

21 January 2014

Watchers of the Skies: Planck [1]

I have mentioned before how I am fascinated by deep space probes. I still can't tell you exactly why that is, but part of it must be that they're far away and all of them are pioneers. And I also have a fascination with pioneers. 
Some of them just head out and will forever roam away from their planet of birth, like Voyagers 1 and 2 and Pioneer 10. Some stay a little closer but also travel unspeakable distances. Lots of them pass Earth more than one time again to gain speed to catapult themselves into another orbit or trajectory to a planet, comet or some other celestial body.
Special ones are designated to spend their working life at the poetically named Lagrange points. These specific spots in the neighbourhood of a planet or moon are exactly where the gravitational pull is more or less cancelled. An object placed at such a point will travel around the sun with the same speed as the Earth and moon and will look stationary from the viewpoint of as well the Earth as the moon. Such points are ideal for stationing or observation.

Lagrange points around the Earth and its Moon.
Let's take point L1 for example. An object there always will be at the same place between the Moon and the Earth. By doing so it will be at a predictable spot so you can easily fly towards it and, for example dock. Imagine a journey to the moon and a little further than halfway there is a docking station. There you can get off and transfer to a moon taxi that will bring you to the surface. The ship you came with refuels and returns to Earth. Beyond the orbit of the Moon you'll find L2. It also is a very precise spot with a very precise purpose. Here, the moon cancels out the reflections of light coming from the earth. The object practically always is in the shadow of the moon*. So, no hindrance of excessive light. At such a spot you also could have a special kind of observation platform, like a space telescope.
Planck is such a space telescope. It was built by the European Space Agency to be placed there and survey the galaxy around us. 
In 2009 Planck was launched, together with its brother telescope, Herschel, on top of an Ariane 5 from Kourou. Planck was placed at the L2 point and there observed the phenomenons of the universe, mainly things like the cosmic background noise which is used to determine the age of the universe.  Planck was operational until august 2013. After that, it had run out of cooling fluid for its telescope parts and it could no longer function. It then was put into a parking orbit around the sun, to keep the L2 point free for successors and was powered down.

Well, that's just a little tip of the iceberg. Lots more to tell about Planck. But I started with a model of the telescope. And that is what this blog is about. Paper models.
Here's where it started, more after the jump.

*"practically always in the shadow of the moon": of course this is only partially true. In reality, the probe orbits in a special "wobbly orbit" around the imaginary Lagrange point, so it also can catch some sunlight to power its equipment.

The model is a Frankenstein, the base is John Jogerst's 1/48 model, which I upgraded a bit with some recolouring and scavenging another kit's parts which had a rather odd scale size,  but looked more like the original than the parts of the base model.  

I printed the bottom solar panel on glossy photo paper. The shape was taken from the model I will call "The ESA model" from here on, but the solar panel structure was made by me. 
The bottom disc was made from very nice and thick paper from an old Apple battery cardboard box. Really lovely card. On top of this disc, there is an octagon on which top again is a series of three solar reflectors and radiators.

On top of that, the actual telescope is placed. Inside a baffle structure, coated with a highly reflective material, there are two mirrors and a small receiving station for all the observations.

The bottom disc, finished. The reflective shields are six mirror-like segments per plane of which there are three in total. In the original kit, this would have consisted of just three mirrored shallow cones on top of each other. The flight equipment was a little more complex.

This is about where I am now. There still are some small mysteries to me, like for example :what colour and structure have the side walls of the octagon? Hopefully, more on that later.
This is what you will have to live with for this time.
Thanks for watching!
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