BUSINESS

Space telescope’s Greek wiring

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“It’s like the human nervous system, what we do. You may have the perfect system, but if does not have the right wiring then it cannot function,” says Nikolas Giannoulakis, technical director and business development manager at Greek company ELFON, as he explains the importance of wiring, one of his company’s main products.

ELFON may not be well known among the general public, but it is in the defense industry. Based in Pallini, eastern Attica, it is among the few companies participating in the construction of a space telescope in the context of the European Space Agency’s PLATO (Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars) project.

The mission is to create a space observatory to seek out exoplanets (planets outside our solar system). It will examine thousands of exoplanetary systems, with an emphasis on discovering planets of a size and with features similar to Earth (i.e. with possible liquid water). The mission is scheduled for 2026.

The space telescope to be employed will be nothing like those that some of us may have at home: This one will consist of 26 special cameras with very sophisticated interconnections. ELFON has undertaken the project of wiring these 26 digital cameras and their interconnections with the electronic systems that will forward all the information collected and recorded. In other words, if the wiring does not work well, we will not find out what those cameras are recording.

Over the last few days the company has been conducting tests on the wiring on a replica of the space telescope at its facilities in Pallini. Giannoulakis explained to Kathimerini that for the construction of space telescopes, a replica needs to be created, on which the wiring is installed just like on the real telescope, as the ESA program requires.

It all started for ELFON in 2015, Giannoulakis explained, when OHB Systems AG – the German firm that has undertaken the PLATO project – approached ELFON, as both the European Space Agency and OHB were determined to involve a Greek firm in the project.