The Advanced Instrumentation Technology Centre (AITC) provides design, manufacturing and testing capabilities for precision instruments and opportunities for student participation in technical projects at RSAA. It is also home to a research and development program focussing on the next generation of large optical telescopes.
The AITC is creating a new national centre for the Australian space community, connecting researchers and industry partners from around the country and across the globe, and providing a state-of-the-art payload development and systems integration resource.
The AITC complex houses a number of clean rooms, optics and detector workshops, and engineering offices. There is a large integration hall suitable for assembling the large instruments that will be needed for the next generation of ground-based telescopes. There is also a large screened chamber capable of blocking out the masses of background radio noise that fills the modern world. This will be particularly useful in assessing the true dark noise in very sensitive detectors that form critical parts of modern telescope instrument packages.
The new facilities available within the AITC will soon include a 3m diameter by 4m long thermal vacuum chamber that can not only simulate the airless environment of space, but can also heat or cool a test article to realistically test its performance at extreme temperatures. This is useful for space projects, and also needed to test astronomical instruments and components, many of are operated in a vacuum.
The centre will also include a computer-controlled "shaker" capable of exerting acceleration forces of several tons on various instruments under test. This is vital for anything that is going to be launched into orbit, because scientists have to be confident that it can survive the bumpy ride atop a rocket and still work properly when it arrives in space. It can also be very helpful to be able to test the ability of huge telescope parts to withstand the more gentle, but still potentially damaging, process of land transport.
AITC state-of-the-art facilities enable us to ensure that articles and materials to be fabricated, processed, inspected, or tested meet requrements for temperature, humidity, electrostatic discharge, or contamination control. Assembly and test areas and controlled and maintained to cleanliness levels of at least Class 10,000, or better if required.
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) standard
ESD-safe workstations include:
- ESD floor mat
- ESD table mat
- Wrist straps with constant monitoring
- Humidity monitoring
Laminar flow workbenches
- ISO Class 3 air cleanliness within work zone as per ISO 14644.1 (equivalent to Class 1 as per US Federal Standard 209)
- Air ionisation bar
- Certification testing, including integrity test, air velocities, particle counts, and site installation test
- Class 10,000 controlled areas in accordance with US Federal Standard 209
- Particle count
- Temperature control: 19°C +3°C -1°C
- Humidity control to 50% RH ±10%
- Air ionisation
- Facility maintenance program
Electrodynamic vibration test facilities
A 35kN vibration test facility is planned for installation in late 2012. This will offer the ability to simulate a space launch environment for test objects of up to 250kg.
Providing random and sine vibration spectra suited to satellites from nanosat to smallsat classes, this facility will enhance Australia's participation in space systems design and development.
Thermal vacuum chamber
Also planned for future installation is a 3m diameter by 4m long thermal vacuum chamber that can simulate the vacuum conditions of space and heat or cool a test article over a temperature range of -170°C to +80°C, to provide a realistic test bed for its performance.