Posted: October 1, 2009

Departure into New Worlds - Nanocoating by ItN Nanovation is flying to the Mercury

(Nanowerk News) ItN Nanovation AG with its high expertise and successful work in the field of nanoscale coatings has been selected to develop important thermal coatings for the BepiColombo Mercury probe of the European space agency ESA and JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency. The coating is designed to be applied on the high gain antenna of the satellite. ItN Nanovation is cooperating with the antenna reflector contractor, the Astrium GmbH, a subsidiary of EADS, and with Thales Alenia Space Italy responsible of the overall Antenna.
The coating is exposed to extreme conditions during the mission which is planned to last about seven years: in cruise and subsequently in the orbit of the Mercury with very high UV-, electron- and proton radiation at temperatures above 400°C. Mercury is the planet closest to the sun with an average distance to the sun of ca. 58 million kilometres. The farthest distance to Earth is approximately 220 million kilometres. The UV radiation in the orbit of Mercury is 10 to 14 times higher than in the orbit of planet Earth and is causing severe deterioration of the thermal properties of conventional coatings. First tests with ItN Nanovation coatings under space conditions showed a good stability after high UV-irradiation.
The ESA´s BepiColombo mission is going to be realized by an international consortia under the leadership of Astrium GmbH, Friedrichshafen. It is scheduled to be launched in 2014. After travelling for about six years the satellite will enter Mercury orbit to explore the planet for at least one year. Among several investigations (e.g. investigations in the magnetosphere of Mercury), BepiColombo will establish a complete map of Mercury at different wavelengths. This will allow to map the planet’s mineralogy and elemental composition and determine whether the interior of the planet is molten or not.
Dr. Ralph Nonninger, CTO of ItN Nanovation and responsible for research and development is commenting: „We are proud that we can participate in such a demanding space mission and that we have been chosen by Astrium GmbH as developing partner for the coating system of the high gain antenna. The assignment as development partner underlines once more - besides the economical implications for ItN Nanovation - the capability of our products and the high international reputation of our enterprise.”
Source: ItN Nanovation (press release)
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