Wall of the Maxwell Test Chamber

Wall of the Maxwell Test Chamber


07/03/2018 7:42 am


Edgar Martins


The photographer who took this enigmatic picture inside ESA’s Maxwell Test Chamber – used for assessing the electromagnetic compatibility of entire satellites – has been shortlisted by the Sony World Photography Awards for architecture and still-life photography.

Once the chamber’s main door is sealed, Maxwell’s 9 m-high metal walls form a ‘Faraday Cage’, blocking electromagnetic signals from outside. The ‘anechoic’ foam pyramids covering its interior absorb internal signals – as well as sound – to prevent any reflection, mimicking the infinite void of space. Then a satellite can be switched on to detect any harmful interference as its various elements operate together.

Portuguese-born Edgar Martins collaborated closely with ESA to produce a comprehensive photographic survey of the Agency’s various facilities around the globe, together with those of its international partners.

The striking results were collected in a book and exhibition, The Rehearsal of Space and The Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite.

Characteristically empty of people, Martin’s long exposures on wide film possess a stark, reverent style. They document the variety of specialised installations and equipment needed to prepare missions for space, or to recreate orbital conditions for testing down on Earth.

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