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RAL Space

RAL Space (formerly CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory) is an STFC offshoot based in Didcot, Oxfordshire. The company worked closely with the Open University team developing Ptolemy. RAL Space were responsible for the miniaturisation of the instrument capabilities of a room-sized mass spectrometry system down to an instrument the size of a shoebox. 

In order to perform this task, RAL Space developed and incorporated several novel solutions into the design. These included shape memory alloys (metals that can deform and then return to their original shape when heated) to activate the release of carrier gases within the instrument. The company also developed exceptionally small electron sources in order to miniaturise the mass spectrometer at the heart of Ptolemy. In addition, the response of the instrument to temperature fluctuations and vibrations during launch was also tested at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Finally, the electronics systems and the onboard software for the operation of Ptolemy were also developed by RAL Space.
In addition to the contributions to Ptolemy, RAL Space also designed and built the thermal insulation of GIADA and VIRTIS as well as the Philae lander as a whole.
The Ptolemy instrument