About The Facility

APL’s Optical Calibration Facility (OCF) is the proving ground for successful optical instrumentation for spaceflight. In this facility, teams of scientists and engineers work together to calibrate and test the function and performance of space-grade optical instruments in a simulated space environment. The space environment is simulated in two separate chambers. Liquid nitrogen cools the chambers to achieve cryogenic temperatures, and a suite of vacuum pumps evacuate the air and gases to simulate the vacuum of space. Inside the chamber, instruments are steered through two separate, well-characterized windows, allowing multiple optical tests to be conducted without having to reconfigure the test setup. Electrical connections to support equipment that monitors the temperatures, pressures, gases and instrument performance are made through the wall of the chamber. This preflight characterization and calibration are critical to ensure the optical sensors built at APL meet mission and science requirements.