FLEX Calibration Unit

Almatech Contribution

Almatech is responsible for the complete design, development and delivery of the 4 models of the FLORIS Calibration Unit (CU).
The CU is a critical mechanism inside the FLORIS payload as it provides the motion required to position the calibration targets in the optical paths of the instrument.
The CU is composed of a carousel that rotates to three different positions during normal in flight operation.

Almatech design has been selected amongst a fierce competition thanks to its inherent advantages:

  • Integrates multiple levels of redundancy
  • Allows contaminant-free inspections
  • Includes straylight-suppressing substructures
  • Avoids the use of contamination doors and launch lock

This project is an important milestone for Almatech since it paves the way for future optical calibration mechanisms. All the condensed efforts put in place during the proposal preparation resulted in a very efficient and robust design which was selected against competitors with more heritage. Now is time to bring the concept alive and test it!

Dr Marco Lai

Almatech Principal Engineer

About the mission

FLEX is the ESA mission Earth Explorer #8, it stands for Fluorescence Explorer (FLEX). The goal of the mission is to map vegetation fluorescence in order to quantify photosynthetic activity.

The conversion of atmospheric carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy-rich carbohydrates through photosynthesis is one of the most fundamental processes on Earth – and one on which we all depend.

Information from FLEX will improve our understanding of the way carbon moves between plants and the atmosphere and how photosynthesis affects the carbon and water cycles.

In addition, information from FLEX will lead to better insight into plant health and stress. This is of particular relevance since the growing global population is placing increasing demands on the production of food and animal feed.

The FLEX satellite will orbit in tandem with one of the Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellites, taking advantage of its optical and thermal sensors to provide an integrated package of measurements.

The FLEX mission (Credit ESA)

carousel angular position accuracy

target mass

maximum power consumption