ESA Science News

11 Dec 1999

XMM takes pictures of itself!

The XMM spacecraft, launched on 10 December from Kourou, has sent back pictures of itself in space.

The photographs were taken by two micro-cameras placed on the exterior of the spacecraft’s focal plane assembly.
Provided by OIP, subsidiary of Delft Sensor Systems, Antwerp, Belgium, the two cameras (10 x 6 x 6cm) each
weigh but 430 grams.

The cameras are of two types: the FUGA camera has a logarithmic
response, with a high dynamic range, providing a black and white picture. The exposure time of the second IRIS
camera with a colour filter, can be modified. The field of view of both cameras is fixed (approx. 40 deg x 40 deg),
giving a view along the telescope tube towards the service platform and the solar arrays.

These pictures were taken just under five hours after liftoff, at 19:25 UT (20:25 CET). XMM was then at an
altitude of 55,300 km above the Earth’s surface. Because of constraints due to the spacecraft’s orientation at this
time, the cameras could not have a view showing our planet.


* XMM launch clip and more images


[Image 1:]
Picture taken by XMM’s FUGA camera showing the telescope tube and one solar array on the left. At the top of the
picture, one sees the edges of the now deployed telescope sunshield. What appears as a white boom in centre is in
fact one of the fixed lateral sunshield panels, seen side-on. 10 December 1999, 5 hours after launch.

[Image 2:]
Picture taken by XMM’s IRIS camera show the other solar array on right. At the bottom of the photograph (below
the ESA flags) is the MLI thermal insulation just under the lens of the camera.