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What’s This? #2 – The big reveal!

  • By Sara Mitchell
  • November 7, 2011
  • Comments Off on What’s This? #2 – The big reveal!

Last Friday, we posted this photograph and asked our followers (on the blog, Twitter, and Facebook) to tell us what they thought they were seeing in the picture.


Nearly all of the guesses were actually quite close, and a couple of people got it totally right! Maybe our clue was a little too obvious – “it’s best to put your equipment through all its paces, just to make sure you don’t have a screw loose!” We’ll make the next clue a little more cryptic and see how you do!

Still wondering what that is?

The center circle is the base plate to Goddard’s big “shaker table” – a vibroacoustic testing device that simulates the intense vibrations and noise that equipment would experience during a rocket launch. The base plate is covered with pre-drilled holes that allow operators to attach one of a variety of different specialized plates to mount just about any equipment on the device – up to a full satellite!

Here’s the view from the floor of the testing chamber:

Vibroacoustic Testing Chamber

And here are shelves full of the plates that can be attached to that base plate:

Vibroacoustic Testing Plates

The view from above includes the support structure around the plate. Goddard’s testing facilities also include a couple of smaller tables to test individual instruments or other equipment that doesn’t need to be tested in a chamber a few stories tall.

Here’s a great video about the rigorous testing that equipment must undergo before it is sent into space. The host is Kevin Boyce – who also took me on a tour of the vibroacoustic testing facilities so I could snap these photos!

Congrats to Efrem, the winner of our random drawing among the correct answers! He said it was: “A shake table/ vibrations simulator.” Perfect! We’ll get in touch and send him a prize pack of NASA goodies. Keep watching for the next What’s This? contest.

Categories: What's This?

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