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Maxar's own blogpost Power and Propulsion Element: Five Questions with Maxar’s Tim Cole contains an image with the caption

The ABS-2 spacecraft at Maxar’s Palo Alto, California factory before its launch in 2014. Image: Maxar

The ABS-2 spacecraft at Maxar’s Palo Alto, California factory before its launch in 2014 https://blog.maxar.com/space-infrastructure/2019/power-and-propulsion-element-five-questions-with-maxars-tim-cole

cropped detail from here.

Question: Why are there so many small, identical pieces of what looks like "space tape" on this communications satellite? I though they might be reflectors for 3D metrology, but they seem to be mostly on the noncritical surfaces of black plastic wrap covering the spacecraft, not critical components.


I ran across this while reading for How big of a telescope will Psyche's deep space optical communications demonstrator use out at 5 AU? since Psyche will be built on this platform. Since the quoted blurb is in past tense I don't think Psyche's optical communications demonstration is what they are referring to.

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    $\begingroup$ Must have been an ancounter wiith a swarm of micrometeorites! ;-) $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Mar 30, 2021 at 7:09
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    $\begingroup$ I could imagine the wrapping topology being complex enough to require lots of pieces of tape to hold together properly. Alternatively, maybe they wanted to cut down on fluttering foil and so they applied tape until none of the wrapping could move anymore. If this were a military satellite, it could also be primitive dazzle camouflage $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Mar 30, 2021 at 12:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Fred if the plastic sheet is originally flat, then they'll have to cut and/or fold it a lot to make such a conformal final shape from that single sheet. Perhaps these are little bits of tape or some more permanent adhesive to hold the folds permanently? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 7, 2023 at 13:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Fred Following has an image of Psyche with similar marks, it really looks like tape. jpl.nasa.gov/news/… $\endgroup$
    – Ohsin
    Aug 9, 2023 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Ohsin beautiful! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 9, 2023 at 18:11

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