Look at this amazing photo above the European Space Agency issued a few days ago. It was taken in one of the agency's anechoic chambers, in the "zone of silence" as the title of the press release says. So what is an anechoic chamber? It is an echo-free room where the walls coated with special materials absorb all reflections of sound or electromagnetic waves and insulate any noise coming from outside, thus it simulates a quiet open-space of infinite dimension, which is quite useful in the aerospace industry.
For your viewing pleasure here comes almost 30 images from air and space related anechoic chambers from around the world, from the most silent places on Earth.
ESA's Compact Payload Test Range (CPTR) for antenna testing in Noordwijk, The Netherlands. Metal walls form a ‘Faraday cage’ to block all external signals, isolating the facility from TV and radio broadcasts, aircraft and ship radars, and even mobile calls. Spiky foam cladding absorbs radio signals internally to create conditions simulating the infinite void of space.
Photo: ESA-Anneke Le Floc'h/ESA
Here is a slightly older but also awesome photo of ESA's CPTR facility.
A life size model of the European Mars Express spacecraft due to be launched on its journey to the Red Planet in May-June 2003 accompanied by a sample of Ferrari red paint. The model of the spacecraft is seen here in the anechoic chamber at INTESPACE in Toulouse, alongside the F2002, 2002's Ferrari F1 World Champion car together with Ferrari's 575M Maranello.
Photo: P. Dumas/EURELIOS
Two engineers and a rocket shaped object in an anechoic chamber. NASA, 1963.
Photo: Ralph Morse/LIFE
Two female NASA employees and the Intelsat IV satellite in an anechoic chamber, July 5, 1972.
Scramjet in big silence. The X-43A Hypersonic Experimental (Hyper-X) Vehicle hangs suspended in the cavernous Benefield Aenechoic Facility at Edwards Air Force Base during radio frequency tests in January 2000. BAF is currently the world's largest anechoic chamber.
The Benefield Anechoic Facility is the worlds largest, hands down. In the photo below is NASA's highly modified NF-15B research aircraft hoisted high for antenna radiation pattern tests.
Photo: Chad Bellay (USAF)/NASA
This photo shows how huge the BAF really is. A C-130J Hercules transport aircraft fits into it without any problem.
Photo: Thomas Powell/U.S. Air Force
One more BAF-photo: an X-51 Scramjet-Waverider mock-up hangs inside the Benefield Anechoic Facility during the vehicle's antenna testing.
Photo: Mike Cassidy/U.S. Air Force
The blended wing body model installed inside the Langley Anechoic Noise Research Facility, building 1218A. A circular microphone boom that is used to measure noise around the model is also shown.
A full-scale Orion model under antenna testing at the Johnson Space Center in an anechoic chamber. NASA conducted similar tests the Apollo and shuttle programs in this and other facilities.
Photo: Devin Boldt/NASA
A CV-22 Osprey hangs in the anechoic chamber to test upgraded Electronic Warfare systems at the Joint Preflight Integration of Munitions and Electronic Systems hangar, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
The Link-16, AS-4127A maritime antenna is tested with compact range equipment in the specialized antenna anechoic chamber at the new Surface Sensors and Combat Systems Facility at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren.
Photo: U.S. Navy
Anechoic chamber at the Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA, in English: National Institute of Aerospace Technology), the headquarters of Spain's space agency in Torrejón de Ardoz, near Madrid.
Photo: Max Alexander/PromoMadrid
Anechoic chamber at the Glenn Research Center (NASA-GRC) in 1979.
Another anechoic facility at the Glenn Research Center. Photo from 1975.
Photo: NASA/Glenn Research Center
Bistatic Anechoic Chamber, Radar Reflectivity Lab, Naval Air Warfare Center, Point Mugu, California. As a member of the design team, The Howland Company wrote the specification for the compact range reflector, designed the anechoic material layout, developed a conceptual design for target handling systems and procedures, and wrote the construction specs related to shielding and anechoic construction and testing.
Stephen Seufert (left) and Cornelis du Toit (right) in the Building 19 Antenna Anechoic Chamber, with the GPM High Gain Antenna ready for measurements. Date: Tuesday October 26. 2010.
Eurofighter Typhoon in the Alenia Aeronautica Anechoic Shielded Chamber in Turin - Caselle plant (Piedmont Region, Italy). The Anechoic Shielded Chamber, in Alenia Aeronautica’s Turin-Caselle plant, is one of the largests in Europe and it is built to test - in the most favourable conditions - the electromagnetic compatibility of aircraft and systems and measure the performance of emitting devices, specifically in the field of radio frequencies.
Photo: Finmeccanica SpA
The U.S. Navy’s second Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-2) satellite completes testing in a Lockheed Martin Anechoic test chamber to ensure the spacecraft’s signals and interfaces work properly.
Photo: Lockheed Martin
Jim Keyser, manager of Lockheed Martin’s GPS Processing Facility, stands in the Anechoic test chamber where the company perform tests on the GPS III spacecraft to ensure all its signals and interfaces work properly.
Photo: Lockheed Martin
The General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark" in a Lockheed anechoic chamber. A variety of Lockheed Martin aircraft and aircraft systems, from two versions of the F-111 to many versions of the F-16, have been tested in this electromagnetically clean environment.
Anechoic testing on F-35A AF-3 included operating the APG-81 radar, the electronic warfare system, the tactical air navigation system, the identification friend or foe system, and the radar altimeter.
Antennas for the Galileo in-orbit verification engineering model satellite under test in the anechoic chamber at EADS Astrium, Portsmouth, UK, in 2009.
Photo: ESA/EADS Astrium UK
MetOp-A satellite undergoing final testing at EADS Astrium's facilities in Toulouse. MetOp-A was launched on 19 October 2006 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, on a Soyuz ST rocket with a Fregat upper stage.
Photo: C. Mériaux/EADs Astrium
Большая безэховая камерa (БЭК), the Large Anechoic Chamber (BEC), Europe's largest anechoic chamber at "Радиофизика", the "Radiophysics" Radio Research Institute in Russia.
The Express-AM33 satellite undergoes UHF tests at Roskosmos contractor Reshetnev NPO PM, a Russian satellite builder company's anechoic facility.
Radio frequency testing of Express-AM22 satellite in the anechoic chamber of the Russian Satellite Communications Company (RSCC).
A smaller ESA chamber: the Maxwell EMC facility, European Space Research and Technology Centre [ESTEC], Noordwijk, The Netherlands.
Screen cap from this stunning virtual tour