PROBA-V (Project for On-Board Autonomy - Vegetation)
The PROBA-V (Vegetation) mission definition is an attempt, spearheaded by ESA and CNES, to accommodate an improved smaller version of the large VGT (Vegetation) optical instrument of SPOT-4 and SPOT-5 mission heritage on a small satellite bus, such as the one of PROBA-2.
As of 2008, small satellite technologies have reached a level of maturity and reliability to be used as a platform for an operational Earth observation mission. Furthermore, advancements in the techniques of detectors, optics fabrication and metrology are considered sufficiently mature to permit the design of a compact multispectral optical instrument. 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) 9) 10) 11) 12) 13) 14)
The C/D Phase started in July 2010. The system CDR (Critical Design Review) took place in the spring of 2011. The project is currently (summer 2012) in its Phase D, with a Final Acceptance Review planned for December 2012. ESA is responsible for the overall mission, the technological payloads and for the launcher selection.
Background: The VGT instruments (VGT1 & VGT2), each with a mass of ~140 kg and fairly large size, have provided the user community with almost daily global observations of continental surfaces at a resolution of 1.15 km on a swath of ~2200 km. The instruments VGT1 on SPOT-4 (launch March 24, 1998) and VGT2 on SPOT-5 (launch May 4, 2002) are quasi similar optical instruments operating in the VNIR (3 bands) and SWIR (1 band) range.
The Vegetation instruments were jointly developed and funded by France, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, and the EC (European Commission). The consortium of CNES, BelSPO (Federal Public Planning Service Science Policy), SNSB (Swedish National Space Board) and VITO (Flemish Institute for Technological Research) is providing the user segment services (data processing, archiving, distribution). Vegetation principally addresses key observations in the following application domains:
• General land use in relation to vegetation cover and its changes
• Vegetation behavior to strong meteorological events (severe droughts) and climate changes (long-term behavior of the vegetation cover)
• Disaster management (detection of fires and surface water bodies)
• Biophysical parameters for model input devoted to water budgets and primary productivity (agriculture, ecosystem vulnerability, etc.).
As of 2008, a Vegetation archive of 10 years of consistent global data sets has been established permitting researchers access on a long-term basis. The SPOT-5 operational lifetime is estimated to expire in 2012. Pleiades, the next French satellite for Earth Observation, is solely dedicated to high-resolution imaging (on a fairly narrow swath) and will not embark any instrument providing vegetation data.
Since the SPOT series spacecraft will not be continued and the SPOT-5 spacecraft will eventually fail — there is of course a great interest in the EO user community to the Vegetation observation in the context of a smaller mission, affordable to all concerned. 15)
PROBA-V will continue the production of Vegetation products exploiting advanced small satellite technology. However, this implies in particular a redesign of the Vegetation payload into a much smaller unit to be able to accommodate it onto the PROBA bus.
Overview of key requirements of the PROBA-V mission - and some improvements compared to SPOT/Vegetation:
- Data and service continuity: filling the gap between SPOT-VGT and the Sentinel-3 mission
- Spectral and radiometric performance identical to VGT
- GSD: 1 km mandatory, improved GSD is highly disirable: 300 m (VNIR bands), 600 m (SWIR band). Image quality and geometric accuracy, equal to or better than SPOT-VGT
- Provision of daily global coverage of the land masses in the latitudes 35º and 75º North and in the latitudes between 35° and 56° South, with a 90% daily coverage of equatorial zones - and 100% two-daily imaging, during day time, of the land masses in the latitudes between 35º North and 35º South..
Figure 1: Scenario of the PROBA-V gap-filler mission between SPOT-5 and Sentinel-3 (image credit: ESA) 16)
Figure 2: Illustration of the PROBA-V spacecraft in orbit (image credit: ESA)
An extensive feasibility study and trade-off work was undertaken to identify a solution that could meet not only the technical challenges, but that could also be developed and tested within a tight budget of a small satellite mission. 17) 18)
The PROBA-V project of ESA includes the Space Segment (platform contract award to QinetiQ Space NV of Kruibeke, Belgium - formerly Verhaert), the Mission Control Center (Redu, Belgium) and the User Segment (data processing facility) at VITO NV. VITO (Vlaamse instelling voor technologisch onderzoek - Flemish Institute for Technological Research) is located in northern Belgium. VITO’s processing center of VGT1 and 2 data (SPOT-4 and SPOT-5) is operational since 1999. VITO is also the prime investigator and data service provider of PROBA-V for the user community including product quality control. 19)
• The Phase B of the project started in January 2009
• SRR (System Requirements Review) is in Q4 of 2009
• PDR (Preliminary Design Review) in Q2 of 2010
• HMA (Heterogeneous Mission Access) and QA4EO (Quality Assurance for Earth Observation) implementation for user data. Planned interoperability with GSCDA V2 (GMES Space Component Data Access Version 2).
Figure 3: PROBA-V project organization (image credit: ESA, Ref. 9)
An industrial team, led by QinetiQ Space NV (Belgium), is supported by several European subcontractors and suppliers, and is responsible for the development of the flight satellite platform, the vegetation payload and the Ground Segment.
The spacecraft bus (fully redundant) is of heritage from the PROBA-1 and PROBA-2 missions (structure, avionics, AOCS, OBS with minor modifications). The PROBA-V spacecraft has a total mass of ~140 kg, and a volume of 80 cm x 80 cm x 100 cm. The three-axis stabilized platform is designed for a nominal mission lifetime of 2.5 years (Ref. 7). 20) 21) 22)
The spacecraft resources management is built around ADPMS (Advanced Data and Power Management System), which is currently flying on PROBA-2. The data handling part of ADPMS is partitioned using compact PCI modules. A cold redundant mass memory module of 16 Gbit is foreseen for PROBA-V. The newly developed mass memory will use NAND flash technology.
The avionics architecture can be divided in several sections:
• The AOCS block, containing all AOCS equipment and the required additional electronics in order to adapt or convert interfaces and supply voltages.
• The ADPMS, featuring the two redundant data handling lanes and its power section. It is the center of all data handling, communications and power conditioning and distribution.
• The main payload (Vegetation Instrument).
• The technology demonstrators. Four technology demonstrator payloads have been incorporated in the design.
• The communication section, featuring full redundancy for all modules. It comprises the S-band TT&C subsystem and the X-band data downlink subsystem.
• The power distribution and conditioning part of ADPMS supplies an unregulated bus, with each equipment having its internal DC/DC converter. The power conditioning system is designed around a Li-ion battery and a dump resistor ((to dissipate excess current).
The data handling part of ADPMS is built up from several modules, each based on the compact PCI standard. The ADPMS design is fully redundant. The PROBA-V configuration of ADPMS comprises:
• MPM (Main Processor Module), based on a LEON2 processor (ASIC), providing the processing power, memory and physical interfaces to control all other peripheral boards
• TTM (Telecommand and Telemetry Module), providing the bidirectional interface between the spacecraft and the ground stations
• SIM (Spacecraft Interface Module), providing the bidirectional communication interfaces between the ADPMS and the other spacecraft units
• DAM (Data Acquisition Module), providing the data acquisition of analog, digital and temperature signals
• MMM (Mass Memory Module), providing a data storage capability of 16 GByte EDAC protected and based on NAND flash technology
• REM (Reconfiguration and Emergency Module (REM), providing hardware functions to allow an easy reconfiguration and recovery of ADPMS directly from ground in case of problems.
The Power Management System of ADPMS supplies a battery-regulated bus, designed around a Li-ion battery. The power management system is built-up from the following modules:
• PCM (Power Conditioning Module), managing and regulating the incoming and outgoing power
• PDM (Power Distribution Module), managing the power distribution and over current protections.
The power management system can manage a total power of 300 W. Each power output line can handle a current of 2 A.
Figure 4: The ADPMS avionics architecture (image credit: QinetiQ Space, ESA)
Table 1: Overview of PROBA-V subsystems
Figure 5: PROBA-V spacecraft accommodation, outer platform views on left, inner platform views on right (image credit: QinetiQ Space)
AOCS (Attitude and Orbit Control Subsystem) provides three-axis attitude control including high accuracy pointing and maneuvering in different spacecraft attitude modes. The AOCS SW is an extension of the one of PROBA-2, including the following algorithms required by the on-board autonomous mission and payload management: 23) 24)
- Prediction of land/sea transitions using a land sea mask to reduce the amount of data generated
- Optimization of attitude in Sun Bathing mode to enhance incoming power while avoiding star tracker blinding
- Momentum dumping without zero wheel speed crossings during imaging
- Estimations of remaining spacecraft magnetic dipole to reduce pointing error
- Autonomous avoidance of star tracker Earth/Sun blinding
- Inertial mode with fixed scanning rate for moon calibration.
The AOCS hardware selection for PROBA-V consists of a high accuracy double star tracker head, a set of reaction wheels, magnetotorquers, magnetometers and a GPS receiver.
The main AOCS modes are: Safe, Geodetic, Sun Bathing and Inertial mode.
- The satellite Safe mode is used to detumble the spacecraft after separation from the launcher and it will be used to recover from spacecraft anomalies.
- The Geodetic mode is used during nominal observation of the Earth’s vegetation. In this mode the payload is pointed towards the geodetic normal to the Earth’s surface. An extra steering compensation, yaw-steering, is added in this mode, to minimize the image distortion caused by the rotation of the Earth. This yaw-steering maneuver ensures that the spectral imagers are oriented such that the lines of pixels are perpendicular to the ground-trace at each moment. In this mode the star trackers and the GPS receiver are used as sensors and the reaction wheels as actuators.
- On each orbit, the spacecraft enters the Sun Bathing mode from -56º latitude until entry of eclipse. This is to enhance the incoming power.
- The Inertial mode coupled with an inertial scanning of the Moon at a fixed rate is used for monthly radiometric full moon instrument calibration purposes. The pointing towards the moon takes 2.5 min, 9 min for scanning the moon and 2.5 min to return to nominal observation mode. It is sufficient to have the moon in the FOV of the SI (Spectral Imager) for a number of pixels.
NGC Aerospace of Canada was responsible for the design, implementation and validation of the autonomous GNC (Guidance, Navigation and Control) algorithms implemented as part of the PROBA-1 and PROBA-2 AOCS software and has the same responsibilities for the PROBA-V mission.
Figure 6: Functional breakdown of the AOCS software (NGC Aerospace, ESA, QinetiQ Space)
Beyond the technology demonstration through the PROBA program, it is also noted that the AOCS software technology developed in the course of this program is now the baseline of the AOCS of a major operational mission of the GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) program: Sentinel-3. NGC Aerospace Ltd (NGC) of Sherbrooke, (Québec), Canada was responsible for the design, implementation and validation of the autonomous GNC (Guidance, Navigation and Control) algorithms implemented as part of the AOCS software of PROBA-1 and PROBA-2. NGC has the same responsibilities for the PROBA-V mission (Ref. 23).
EPS (Electric Power Subsystem): The PVA (Photo-Voltaic Array) uses GaAs triple junction cells with an of efficiency of 28%. To obtain the operating voltage of 31.5 V, 18 cells are included in each string in series with a blocking diode. The PVA consists of a total of 25 solar strings taken into account the loss of one string on the most contributing PVA panel. The average solar string power under EOL conditions (summer solstice and T = 40°C) yields 12.8 W. The maximal incoming power at EOL during an orbit is 144 W. The energy budget for PROBA-V is derived for a bus power consumption of 140 W assuming a worst case day in the summer and while not taken into account the effect of albedo. A worst case power budget analysis indicated a maximum capacity discharge of 1.66 Ah. Use of a Li-ion battery. The battery cells provide a capacity of 1.5 Ah per string. The PROBA-V battery is sized to 12 Ah taking into account capacity fading and loss of a string.
RF communications (PROBA-V): S-band for TT&C transmissions and low-gain antennas with omni-directional up- and downlink capability. The uplink symbol rate will be fixed at 64 ks/s, while the downlink can be set to a high rate (< 2 Ms/s) for nominal imaging or to a low rate at 329 ks/s for off-nominal conditions. The CCSDS protocol is used for the TT&C transmissions.
X-band downlink of the payload data is in X-band at a data rate of 35 Mbit/s. The onboard mass memory is 88 Gbit. The Redu station (Belgium) is being used for TT&C communication services. The X-band uses two cold redundant high-rate X-band transmitters (developed by Syrlinks, France) and two nadir pointing isoflux antennas, both RHCP.
The S-band transceivers will be connected to RS422 outputs (cross strapped) of ADPMS while the X-band transmitters (8090 MHz) will be connected to the LVDS outputs not cross-strapped. The X-band link budget results in a link margin of 6 dB which will allow a reduction of the RF output power. Therefore the X-band transmitter will be designed (customer furnished item) to support various output power settings such that after commissioning, a lower output power might be selected.
Data compression: The massive amount of data produced by the instrument is beyond the capabilities of the bandwidth available on board of a small satellite. Data are reduced by using a lossless data compression algorithm implemented in a specific electronics. The data compression ratio obtained using standard CCSDS compression algorithms (CCSDS 133.0 B-1) is shown in Table 2.
Table 2: Overview of compression rates
The selection of an S-band transceiver and the development of an innovative and generic X-band transmitter for small satellites has been initiated in a collaborative program between CNES and ESA and is funded under GSTP-5 (General Support Technology Program-5). The X-band transmitter is a high-performance device optimized for the needs and constraints of small platforms for which small volume, low mass, low power consumption, and low cost cost are important parameters. Moreover, some key features such as modulation (filtered Offset-QSK), coding scheme (convolutional 7 ½), data and clock interfaces (LVDS packet wire serial interface) have been selected in compliance with CCSDS recommendations, but also to ease the interoperability with most of the existing on-board computers and ground station demodulators. 25)
The development of the new X-band transmitter is based almost exclusively on COTS components to achieve at the same time high performances and low recurrent cost. The transmitter also features an innovative functionality with an on-board programmable RF output power from 1-10 W which allows to match finely with the chosen bit rate, and to reduce as much as possible the margins of the link budget and therefore the consumption power. PROBA-V is the first mission to use this newly developed transmitter. The transmitter has a mass of 1 kg, a size of 160 mm x 115 mm x 46 mm, an in-orbit life time of 5 years, and a radiation hardness of 10 krad. Data rates from 10-100 Mbit/s are available. The X-band transmitter was manufactured by TES Electonic Solutions of Bruz, France. 26)
Figure 7: Overview of the transmitter architecture (CNES, TES)
Figure 8: Photo of the X-band transmitter (image credit: CNES, ESA)
Figure 9: Photo of a PROBA-V integration test at QinetiQ Space (image credit: ESA)
Figure 10: Photo of PROBA-V on top of the VESPA system on April 15, 2013 (image credit: ESA-Karim Mellab)
Main platform characteristcs:
• Size: 80 cm x 80 cm x 100 cm
• Mass: 138 kg
• Advanced avionics
• Autonomy, e.g. land / sea
• S-band (TM/TC)
• X-band (Payload data).
Launch: The PROBA-V spacecraft (primary payload) was launched on May 7, 2013. The launch vehicle was Vega (with Arianespace as launch provider); the launch site was the Guiana Space Center, Kourou. This marks the first VERTA (Vega Research, Technology and Accompaniment) flight of VEGA (designated as VERTA-1). The mission is designated Flight VV02 in Arianespace's numbering system. 29) 30) 31)
The secondary payloads on this flight were:
• VNREDSat-1A (Vietnam Natural Resources, Environment and Disaster-monitoring Satellite) of STI-VAST (Space Technology Institute-Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology). The microsatellite VNREDSat-1A (115.3 kg) has been built by EADS Astrium, Toulouse, France. 32) 33)
• ESTCube-1 (Estonian Student Satellite-1), a 1U CubeSat (1.3 kg) technology demonstration mission of the University of Tartu.
PROBA-V will ride in the upper position of the VESPA (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter), while VNREDSat-1A and ESTCube-1 will sit in the lower position in the structure. The upper stage of the Vega vehicle is a liquid propulsion module with multiple re-ignition capability. The secondary payloads will be deployed last after re-ignition of the Vega upper stage.
Orbit of PROBA-V: Sun-synchronous orbit, altitude = 820 km, inclination = 98.8º, LTDN (Local Time on Descending Node) = 10:30 hours (with a drift limited between 10:30 and 11:30 AM during the mission lifetime). Note: In contrast to the SPOT-4 and SPOT-5 missions, PROBA-V will not have the capability to maintain its orbit.
Orbit of VNREDSat-1 and ESTCube-1: Sun-synchronous orbit, altitude =704 km, inclination = 98.7º. VNREDSat-1A was released 1 hour 57 minutes into flight. ESTCube-1 was ejected from its dispenser three minutes later. A last burn will now place the spent upper stage on a trajectory that ensures a safe reentry that complies with new debris mitigation regulations.
• In its first two months of work, the vegetation-monitoring PROBA-V minisatellite has yielded a valuable harvest for around a hundred scientific teams around the globe: more than 5000 images, 65 daily global maps and six 10-day global syntheses, plus a quick peek at the Olympics. ESA released the PROBA-V image of Figure 11 (333 m resolution) on February 17, 2014. Cloud covers much of the Black Sea itself. The city of Sochi is a sea port on the coast of the Black Sea (right next to the border of Georgia), while the snow events are taking place in the resort settlement of Krasnaya Polyana in the Caucasus Mountains. 34)
Figure 11: PROBA-V image of the Black Sea acquired on Feb. 7, 2014, including the Winter Olympics host city of Sochi (center of image), image credit: ESA, VITO
• January 2014: After the commissioning phase, the PROBA-V mission operations has been transferred within ESA to D/EOP (Directorate of Earth Observation Programs) as an ESA Earthwatch mission. The Vegetation images are online from the VITO/Copernicus user segment. 35)
• December 03, 2013: Less than seven months after launch, Earth-watcher PROBA-V is ready to provide global vegetation data for operational and scientific use. The crucial commissioning phase is now complete and the satellite has been declared ready for operations. 36)
It is anticipated, that with the data from Proba-V, the user community, ranging from operational Copernicus services to scientific users, will be able to answer questions related to the state of global vegetation and its dynamic changes in a seasonal context. Furthermore, PROBA-V will extend the valuable time series that was started by the SPOT-4/5 Vegetation instruments 15 years ago.
Figure 12: PROBA-V image acquired on Oct. 26, 2013, showing Sicily, Italy with the twin volcanic plumes – one ash, one gas – from Mt. Etna (image credit: ESA, BELSPO)
• On July 10, 2013, the first global VGT map of PROBA-V was provided, demonstrating that the minisatellite is on track to continue a 15-year legacy of global vegetation monitoring from space. 37)
Figure 13: First uncalibrated global mosaic of vegetation from Proba-V, June 2013 (image credit: ESA)
• July 02, 2013: The satellite is currently in its commissioning phase, which includes a careful cross-calibration of the Vegetation imager with its predecessor on France’s Spot-5 satellite, to ensure data compatibility. 38)
Figure 14: PROBA-V image of the border region of northern Syria, southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq observed on June 28, 2013 (image credit: ESA)
Legend to Figure 14: The area pictured is about 500 km across, with large reservoir lakes along the Euphrates River visible on the left, and another along the Tigris River on the right. Reservoirs and rivers secure water supply in the very dry region. They also form the basis for what is visible in different shades of green along the river water’s edges and irrigated agricultural plots to provide food and income to the population.
• June 13, 2013: An A320 Airbus overflying Scotland was the first aircraft 'seen' from space by a new receiver, the ADS-B (Automatic Dependant Surveillance-Broadcast) device of DLR. This verifies that tracking aircraft from space is possible. On May 23, 2013, the experiment was switched on for the first time, recording over 12,000 ADS-B messages within two hours, at an altitude of 820 km. The project team detected over 100 aircraft during the first pass over the British Isles, East Asia and Australia when the receiver was switched on. 39) 40)
ADS-B signals are broadcast by aircraft every second; they include aircraft position and velocity information. ADS-B equipment is being introduced on aircraft as a supplementary data source to the ground-based radar currently used to monitor air traffic. The problem with radar is that its coverage is restricted. Once out of the range of terrestrial radar stations, the continuous air traffic surveillance stops.
Figure 15: Tracking aircraft with the ADS-B receiver on board PROBA-V over Great Britain and the Atlantic Ocean (image credit: DLR)
• May 17, 2013: The PROBA-V spacecraft is in good health following its launch on May 7, 2013. The Vegetation imager has been switched on and the first image has been captured over western France. 41)
- PROBA-V reached its orbit of 820 km altitude just 55 minutes after launch. The first LEOP (Launch and Early Operations Phase) milestone was to check the first signs of life from the satellite as it flew over the ESA ground station in Kourou 40 minutes after separation. Then a full telemetry session confirmed the stabilization of the satellite’s attitude. The onboard computer used its magnetorquers to control the satellite’s attitude and compensate for the spin imparted by the separation.
- Since then, the project has been checking the various subsystems one by one, confirming that they have made it through the stress of launch in working order. These initial checks are now being followed by a diligent commissioning of every single detail of the overall system platform, instrument and technology demonstration payloads, which will take the next few months.
Figure 16: PROBA-V's first raw image acquired over France's west coast on May 15, 2013 (image credit: ESA)
Legend to Figure 16: The image was generated using the three VNIR bands, blue, red and near-infrared (NIR) superposed, the green being replaced by the NIR. It has not yet been radiometrically or geometrically corrected. Less than a cubic meter in volume, the miniaturized ESA satellite is tasked to map land cover and vegetation growth across the entire planet every two days.
Sensor complement: (VGT-P, Technology Payloads)
The major challenge in designing the payload is to make it compatible with the resources available on a small satellite like PROBA and at the same time accommodate the large swath. The selected solution is to divide the FOV (Field Of View) into three smaller parts and to use compact reflective optics elements using TMA ((Three Mirror Anastigmat) telescopes for each part. Each TMA is equipped with large VNIR and SWIR FPAs (Focal Plane Assemblies) to cover the large swath.
In addition to VGT-P, as a secondary mission objective, PROBA-V will fly four technology demonstration payloads.
VGT-P (Vegetation Instrument - PROBA):
The PROBA-Vegetation payload is a multispectral pushbroom spectrometer with 4 spectral bands and with a very large swath of 2285 km to guarantee daily coverage above 35 latitude. The payload consists of 3 identical SI (Spectral Imagers), each with a very compact TMA telescope. Each TMA, having a FOV of 34º, contains 4 spectral bands: 3 bands in the visible range and one band in the SWIR spectral range. The swath TFOV is 103º. 42) 43) 44) 45)
VGT-P is restricted to imaging land and dedicated calibration zones. On-board the spacecraft, there is for each spectral imager a land sea mask that is provided by the PI (Principal Investigator). The land sea mask removes the pixels that contain only sea and it dictates when each SI should be in imaging mode.
OIP (Optronic Instruments & Products, Belgium) is the industrial prime contractor for the payload and is responsible for the design and development of the PROBA-V instrument and AMOS (Belgium) is responsible for the manufacturing and alignment of the telescope. The major payload challenge lies in the fact that the wide-swath imaging instrument has to fit into a small satellite with limited resources. The TMAs and the SWIR FPA have to be developed for the VGT-P since no COTS products are available. 46) 47) 48)
Table 3: Overview of VGT-P parameters
Each SI (Spectral Imager) contains one telescope, a beam splitter to separate the VNIR from the SWIR spectral bands, spectral bandpass filters to select the spectral bands, and the VNIR and SWIR focal plane arrays. The spectral bands will be realized by spectral bandpass filters centered on 460, 658, 834 and 1610 nm, with bandwidths of respectively 42, 82, 121 and 80 nm. The filters will be applied on the detector windows.
The optical axis of the central telescope will point to nadir and the two outer telescopes will point 34º from nadir. Together the three TMAs will cover a complete FOV of 102º. The optical system is telecentric, and the aperture is located at the position of the second (spherical) mirror.
The optical bench is passively cooled through a radiator and heaters compatible with the geo-location performances. The mass of the complete optical bench is about 20 kg, the total instrument mass is 35 kg.
Figure 17: Conceptual accommodation of the VGT-P inside the PROBA-V spacecraft (image credit: OIP, ESA)
Figure 17 shows the payload mounted on the PROBA-V platform. Given the reduced size of the platform, a H-shape structure, the only practical location of the payload is on the anti-velocity panel. This accommodation, with respect to a solution with the payload in the middle of the structure, has the advantage of a very simple assembly and clean mechanical interface. The drawback is a larger temperature gradient due to the close vicinity of the payload to the solar panel.
Figure 18: Block diagram of the VGT-P (image credit: OIP)
Legend to Figure 18:
- ROE (Read Out Electronics)
- PSU (Power Supply Unit)
- DHU (Data Handling Unit)
- PEU (Peripheral Electronics Unit)
- MLI (Multi-Layered Insulation)
TMA telescope development: VGT-P makes use of a set of three such telescopes, identical to each other. The purpose of the related ESA GSTP (General Support Technology Program) development is to demonstrate the feasibility of one item of the set with respect to its required optical quality, and to secure the instrument development. The entire telescope (structure and mirrors included) is an athermal design made of the same aluminum material. The mirrors quality is achieved by SPDT and the alignment rely on the very precise matching of the mirrors with the mounting structure.
Taking into account the mission constraints and objectives, including the innovative features of the instrument, a full-aluminum design was selected. This choice allows taking benefit from the recent developments in ultra-precision milling and turning techniques, as well as in optical aluminum production. Furthermore, this leads to a homothetic telescope behavior. The optical performance requirement of the telescope with regard to MTF (Modulation Transfer Function) is given in Table 4.
SPDT (Single Point Diamond Turning): Diamond turning is a process of mechanical machining of precision elements using Computer Numerical Control (CNC) lathes equipped with natural or synthetic diamond-tipped cutting elements. The SPDT process is widely used to manufacture high-quality aspheric optical elements from crystals, metals, acrylic, and other materials. Optical elements produced by the means of diamond turning are used in optical assemblies in telescopes, scientific research instruments and numerous other systems and devices. Diamond turning is specifically useful when cutting materials that feature aspheric shapes such as TMA surfaces.
Table 4: Performance requirements of MTF
Figure 19: Optical design concept of the TMA (ray tracing diagram), image credit: OIP
Baffle design (Ref. 44): The aim of the baffle design is to block the out-of-field light which could enter the instrument and reach the detector, directly or through one or several reflections on the mirrors. This 1st order analysis didn’t consider vanes on the baffles and diffusion on M1 of out-of-field light.
The preliminary baffle layout is presented in Figure 20. It comprises 7 baffles: 1 at the entrance aperture of the instrument and 6 placed inside the instrument. An aperture stop is also placed at the level of the secondary mirror.
The baffle #1 is placed at the entrance of the instrument. Its role is to limit the out-of-field light that could directly reach the mirrors. The combination of the baffles #1 and #2 stops the direct view of the M3 mirror through the instrument entrance. The length of the upper side of the entrance baffle is defined to stop the light which could directly reach the M3 mirror and that could not be stopped by the lower side of the entrance baffle and by baffle #2. Some out-of-field light can also reach the M2 and M3 mirrors after reflecting on M1. This cannot be totally avoided but the length of the lower side of baffle #1 has been chosen in such a way that this straylight is stopped by the baffle #3 after reflecting on M3. The baffle #3 is placed below the M2 mirror and stops the direct view of the M1 mirror by the VNIR detector. The baffle #4 is a critical location where reflection or diffusion on the M2 structure can occur and bring stray light to the VNIR detector which is very close. Vanes will be placed at this location. The baffles #5 and #6 are placed near the focal planes to isolate the detectors from each other. The baffle #7 avoids a direct view to the SWIR detector from the M1 or M3 mirrors.
Figure 20: PROBA-V TMA preliminary baffles layout (image credit: CSL, OIP, ESA/ESTEC)
FPA (Focal Plane Assembly) design: The FPA is a very precise optical sub-module that comprises of a very accurately machined interconnecting structure in titanium, the VNIR and SWIR detectors, the detector windows, and a folding mirror used to optimize the packaging of the detectors, and thus minimizing the sub-module’s volume claim.
Within this assembly, the VNIR and SWIR detectors are precisely mounted relative to the FPA interconnecting structure. The FPA sub-module is mounted and aligned onto the TMA interconnecting structure and its position is justified via the VNIR detector - the SWIR detector inherits its position.
Figure 21: Conceptual view of the FPA optical design (image credit: OIP, ESA)
VNIR detector: The VNIR detector is a AT71547 (ex TH31547) quadrilinear detector from E2V. It consists of 4 photodetector lines, each line containing 6000 photodiodes HAD type (Hole Accumulation Diode) with 13 µm pitch. Each line includes its own anti-blooming system. Only 3 lines (blue, red and NIR) out of the four are used as separate array at a different wavelength. The spectral separation is done by the use of a spectral windows from Barr mounted on the detector transparent window (Figure 21). To reduce stray light falling on the arrays, the front and back surfaces of the detector window are coated with an anti-reflective coating, and the front surface also has a black mask applied.
Figure 22: VNIR detector layout (image credit: OIP, ESA)
Figure 23: Illustration of the optical assembly of VGT-P and two star trackers on the optical bench (image credit: OIP)
SWIR detector: The SWIR detector was specifically designed for PROBA-V by the company XenICs considering the large FOV. Due to the required imaging length of over 2700 pixels, sensor, it was decided to make the device in three sections, each consisting of a ROIC (Read-Out Integrated Circuit) chip and a PDA (Photodiode Array) chip with 1024 pixels on 25 µm pitch. The ROIC chip has been custom designed for the mission. The assembly is realized in a custom-designed kovar package of ~103 mm length with 72 pins shown in Figure 24. The large number of pins is required to operate and read-out the three ROICs independently for improved redundancy in case of failures during the mission. Due to the tight pitch, two rows of wire bonds on a 50 µm pitch are used to connect the ROIC chips to the PDA fan out (Ref. 42). 49)
Figure 24: Photo of the fully assembled FPA in its package (image credit: OIP, Xenics)
Table 5: Vegetation instrument parameter comparison on SPOT series and on PROBA-V spacecraft (Ref. 15)
Thermal design of the VGT-P instrument: 50)
One of the major drawbacks of using multiple optical systems in parallel while imaging, is the effect of pointing inaccuracies due to thermo-elastic and mechanical deformations. It is obvious that such pointing errors can easily destroy the quality of the images. For the VGT-P, the stringent geo-location requirements demand the instrument to be thermally stabilized as much as possible to reduce any thermo-elastic disturbances.
Since the PROBA platform is fairly limited in the delivery of power, VGT-P needs to be very efficient in its power use. As a direct consequence, there is no possibility to have an active thermal control system to stabilize the instrument. The thermal design of the instrument must therefore be very carefully assessed and engineered.
• Thermal isolation: Firstly, as the surrounding satellite panels are heavily fluctuating in temperature during the orbit, it is of the utmost importance to shield the instrument thermally from these platform variations. To reduce the radiative heat loads from the environment, the instrument is completely wrapped in a 12 layer MLI. To reduce the conductive heat loads from the mounting plane, the instrument is mounted by means of titanium quasi isostatic mounting feet. These quasi isostatic mounting feet also play a major role in the transfer of the thermo-mechanical deformations from the underlying platform to the optical bench as they strongly reduce these deformations. Therefore, these titanium flexures as they are called not only serve as a thermal isolation, but also acts as a thermo-elastic isolator.
Power reduction: A natural step to reduce the thermo-elastic effects on the instrument is to reduce as much as possible the heat load on the optomechanics. Therefore, all non critical and heavy heat dissipating detector read-out electronics are separated from the optics. The FPAs of the telescope only contain the detector and electronic components which drive the radiometric performances of the instrument. These FPA electronics are connected through a flex rigid to the ROE (Read-Out Electronics) which is thermally and structurally disconnected from the optomechanics. All major heat dissipating components are located in there.
Obviously, also the central electronics (DHU and PSU) are separated from the optomechanical imaging system. By doing this, the total power dissipation on the optical bench is only 9W, which is less than ¼ of the total power dissipation of the complete VTG-P instrument.
• Heat dissipation: To dissipate this heat load, a radiator is needed. Several concepts were proposed and analyzed. The most efficient radiators point towards deep space which would enable us to cool down the complete instrument to very cold temperatures. This had a drawback that additional heaters would have been needed to stabilize the thermal regime of the instrument to normal working temperature. Moreover, as the instrument is always pointing downwards towards Earth, the radiator would have been located on the side of the instrument which naturally induces an asymmetry in the optomechanics. Such asymmetry is not desired in an imaging sensor with stringent pointing requirements. Moreover, heat pipes would have been mandatory to extract as efficient as possible all heat of the detectors towards the radiator which unnecessarily complicated the complete design.
From a thermo-elastic point of view, it was highly desirable to respect the symmetry of the instrument as much as possible and to symmetrically extract the heat from the FPA’s on the optical bench. Thus, it was chosen to locate the radiator in front of the instrument and point it towards the earth surface. As the earth is thermally quite stable at a fairly modest temperature and as the payload is always pointed nadir, this is the perfect heat drain for the instrument. The implementation of this concept reduces the complexity dramatically: the radiator, covered with aluminized Teflon, is connected through two thermal straps towards the front of the instrument without the need to install heat pipes.
• Stability: Stability is the key aspect of thermo-elastic performance. Of course, without the possibility of an active thermal control system, stability is quite difficult to achieve in a thermal environment which is constantly varying over the orbit.
To tackle this problem, the first stage was to avoid the randomness in the heat loads on the instrument and to have constant thermal regime along the orbit. As the payload is encircling the Earth with its radiator pointing at nadir, the heat load on the radiator is subjected to a varying regime from sunlit to eclipse and back. From the point of view of efficient power use, the imaging circuits on the instrument are switched off by the satellite if no imaging is needed (over the oceans, over the poles, during eclipse). This would induce different thermal regimes from one orbit to the other, which is not acceptable from pointing point of view. But leaving all electronics switched on during non operation is a no go considering the lack of power. As a compromise, during sunlit conditions and when the imaging electronics is powered off, a heater located on the detector with a heat load equal to the heat load of the detector and FPA is powered. In this way, the heat loads on the optical system remain constant during sunlit. During eclipse, all is switched off. - As a consequence, a constant thermal regime on the optics is established: during 1/3 of the orbit (eclipse) the radiator faces only IR and the instrument is switched off. During the 2/3 of the orbit, the radiator sees IR and albedo and the instrument is switched on.
• Gradients: The final challenge in the thermal design is to avoid thermal gradients in the instrument as gradients are hard to control and can severely affect the thermo-elastic performance. As already described, the heat extraction has respected the symmetry of the instrument. An unavoidable asymmetry is the location of the Star Trackers as they have their own limitations. The heat load from the FPA and the detectors on the telescopes is normally entering the instrument through the TMAs to the top skin of the optical bench. However, this would heavily distort and bend the optical bench as the top skin will expand more than the bottom. To reduce this effect, thermal straps are designed to extract most of the heat (4/5) from the detectors and the FPA towards the optical bench, the rest is still entering the TMA structure. To reduce the thermal bending, the heat straps are mounted on the side of the optical bench to avoid the bending of the bench.
Electronics design: The functional conceptual electronic design consists of three major building blocks:
1) The VNIR and SWIR ROE (Read-Out Electronics): The VNIR and SWIR ROE are the interface between the respective detector and the DHU (Data Handling Unit). The main functions of the ROE modules are to control the detectors, perform the A/D conversion, generate accurate bias to the detectors, and transmit the raw digital image data to the DHU. Additional functions are generating local biases and performing housekeeping measurements.
2) A centralized DHU (Data Handling Unit): The DHU is the central unit, acting as interface between the satellite and the VNIR and SWIR ROE. It is responsible for all the on-board data handling, image processing and temporal data storage, as well as for collecting the housekeeping data of the different sub-units. The main function are control and synchronization of the ORE, perform compression of the incoming image data as per CCSDS standard, packetizing of the image data before sending to the satellite OBC, collection and transmission of the available housekeeping data and processing of command data sent from the OBC over the serial communication link.
Proba-V has three VNIR and three SWIR line sensors which compose three separated channels each. This leads to a total amount of 18 channels with 9 channels for VNIR each with a resolution of 5200 pixel and 9 SWIR channels each with a resolution of 1024 pixels. The 18 Channels have to be compressed independently with a variable compression ratio by the DHU. Furthermore, DHU supports bad pixel removal on basis of a bad pixel map which can be uploaded from. The compression is performed on an advanced overlapping tilling scheme. The DHU performs the following functionality: 51)
- Control & Monitoring of 3 VNIR and 3 SWIR
- Generation of camera syncs to the 3 VNIR and 3 SWIR with programmable time and delay
- Interface to VNIR/SWIR and separation of the incoming data streams into a total of 18 independent channel data streams
- Sorting of incoming data from a disordered arrangement to an adjacent pixel to pixel and adjacent line to line based arrangement supported
- Storage of data in SDRAM (required because of 2D wavelet based compression)
- Online lossless and lossy compression with selectable ratio and bypass capacity (independent selectable for each channel)
- Generation of source packets from the processed data with subsequent transmission via a PacketWire interface to S/C
- Interface for control & monitoring from S/C (TMTC Interface)
- RTC (Real Time Clock)
- Acquisition of HK data and provision of HK packet to the S/C.
The complete DHU functionality is implemented within two Microsemi RTAX 2000S FPGAs from ACTEL.
Image data handling approach: The advanced overlapping tiling scheme of the universal compression core is especially a challenge for DHU image data handling system. The number of lines according to the tile height (128) has to be collected prior to compression into a temporary SDRAM buffer to form one image. Since all spectral channels are read out simultaneously but have to be processed independently, the DHU has to format an overall of 162 (15 VNIR and 3 SWIR tiles per channel) overlapping tiles of the 18 channels and furthermore perform the bad pixel removal in real time. In parallel, due to the continuous data acquisition of the sensors, the subsequent received lines have to be stored in a different area of the temporary SDRAM buffer to provide a seamless data stream to the compression. With the constraints of spaceborne DHUs, a robust and deterministic architectural approach according to system constraints e.g. resource utilization, performance boundaries and requirements has to be provided.
The DHU has to perform the following processing steps on the acquired images:
- Storage of image line data from the instruments until a complete image is received
- Tile formatting and transfer to the compression core; in parallel bad pixel removal
- Storage of the compressed data from the compression core and additional packet formatting
- Transfer of compressed tiles over the PacketWire interface to the S/C.
All these processing steps have to be performed in parallel. The DHU comprises one centralized mass memory. To provide subchannel independent operations, the memory is sub-divided into VCs (Virtual Channels). Each VC is related to one of the SWIR and VNIR subchannel. Furthermore, to support the parallel processing of incoming data and image processing, a double buffer implementation is mandatory. Therefore, 18 x 2 VCs for image data exist in the architecture. Each VC allocates memory for 1 complete image (128 lines) in the mass memory and additional 18 VCs are provided for the bad pixel maps. On these VCs, constant data length transmissions are performed. Furthermore, the incoming compressed variable data length from the compression core is also stored in VC tile buffers. Two tile buffers are provided in the architecture in which data transmissions of variable length can be performed. Overall the DHU image data handling systems provides 56 VCs.
Figure 25: Photo of the PROBA-V FM DHU box (image credit: VGT consortium)
3) The PSU (Power Supply Unit): The PSU contains all the necessary DC/DC converters (i.e. LPLCs from TAS ETCA) to perform power conditioning to the different sub-units. It contains also the powering selection circuitry (by means of MOSFET) to individually switch on and off the different Spectral Imagers and heaters. The different power lines towards the spectral imager ROEs are also protected by current limiters within the PSU.
Figure 26: Architectural layout of the electronics design (image credit: OIP, ESA)
Since the electronics design is to be Single Point Failure Free, the above described concept is built in the following redundancy configuration:
• the DHU actually consists of 2 sub-units, one primary and one (cold) redundant
• the PSU has a more complex arrangement:
- fully redundant DC/DC converters with their associated TM/TCs
- fully redundant power distribution to DHU and survival heaters
- cross-strapped power distribution to ROEs, via a MOSFET diode –Oring (in line with the 3 ROEs partial redundancy principle).
• The VNIR and SWIR ROE cannot be built in redundant configuration as the detectors are directly mounted on these PCBs. However, if a failure should occur in one of the ROE units such that the instrument fails, the malfunctioning unit can be turned off and the instrument can continue functioning, but with reduced functionality.
Figure 27: Photo of the VGT-P instrument during the integration phase, the star trackers are on the left of the bench (image credit: VGT consortium, Ref. 45)
VGT-P testing and simulations:
A test version of PROBA-V's wide-viewing multispectral imager, referred to as CHIB (Compact Hyperspectral Imager Breadboard), has been subjected to a combination of hard vacuum and temperature extremes in ESTEC’s Mechanical Systems Laboratory, simulating conditions it will face in space (Ref. 43). 52) 53)
CHIB consists of a wide (34º) FOV Three Mirror Anastigmat (TMA) telescope telecentric in the image space and equipped with a 2-dimensional focal plane array with a linear variable optical filter (LVF).
The CHIB optical design is shown in Figure 28. SPDT (Single Point Diamond Turning) enables the fabrication of complex aspheric shapes, which gives a freedom to design and manufacture a highly compact (90 mm x 110 mm x 140 mm) TMA.
A prototype TMA telescope was developed in 2009 through ESA's GSTP (General Support Technology Program).The idea was to combine the PROBA-V TMA with the wide 2-dimensional CMOS array (10000 x 1200), developed under the ESA-PRODEX program for the HALE UAV instrument MEDUSA, and a linear variable filter to create a compact wide swath hyperspectral imager. Based on a first analysis the following top level specifications have been derived for such type of instrument.
The mirrors and structure holding the mirrors are both manufactured in aluminum providing an athermal design. The telescope is telecentric: the variation of the angle of incidence of the chief rays on the focal plane is lower than 1º over the entire field of view, ensuring a negligible shift of the peak transmission over the interference filter. The LVF is positioned close to the focal plane, just in front of the detector.
Figure 28: CHIB optical ray-tracing diagram. Schematically shown are: primary, secondary and tertiary mirrors, LVF, detector (image credit: ESA)
To fully exploit the very wide FOV of the telescope, the instrument is equipped with the large detectors developed by Cypress for Medusa. The detector is a 1200 x 10000 pixel CMOS image sensor with a pixel size of 5.5 µm x 5.5 µm. The main characteristics of the sensor are reported in Table 6.
Table 6: Detector array characteristics
The LVF (Linear Variable Filter) is a fused silica plate coated plate with an interference filter with increasing thickness in along-track direction. The peak of the transmission curve varies with the thickness of the deposition. This implies that all detector pixels in a cross-track row receive information in the same spectral channel. The detector pixels in the along-track rows receive information in different spectral channels, and the closer pixels to each other, the less difference between the corresponding spectral channels. Thus, in principle, the total number of spectral channels is equal to the number of pixels in an along-track detector row covered by LVF. The filter used in the breadboard has operating spectral range 450 nm – 900 nm, FWHM spectral resolution of less than 15 nm and a gradient of the peak transmission wavelength of 60 nm/mm.
VGT-P calibration: Radiometric and geometric instrument performance measurements will be done both on ground and in-flight. The on-ground calibration of the PROBA-V instrument will be performed at CSL (Liège, Belgium) prior to integration on the platform at Verhaert Space. A complete calibration report describing the radiometric and geometric performance characteristics before launch will be compiled. Radiometric and spectral performance characteristics that will be verified on ground are: signal-to-noise, dark currents, linearity, stray light, pixel non-uniformity, polarization sensitivity, spectral response and spectral misregistration. Geometric performance characteristics include MTF, bore sight, spatial misregistration. 54)
The assessment of the PROBA-V performance, the analysis of the image quality and the calibration after launch will be performed by the PROBA-V IQC (Image Quality Center) located at VITO, Belgium. VITO is the processing center for the SPOT-4 and SPOT-5 Vegetation data and is operational since 1999. The Image Quality Center will ensure the highest possible image quality, both radiometrically and geometrically. Given the constraints on power consumption and the small size and weight of the platform, only vicarious calibration techniques will be used to monitor sensor performance over time; no on-board calibration facility is available.
Still, a complete calibration plan to assess the radiometric and geometric performances in-flight is being outlined. The objective of the calibration plan is to achieve a complete PROBA-V calibration at the end of the commissioning phase with :
• A full in-flight radiometric characterization and calibration including :
- Dark current determination
- Calibration of the absolute calibration coefficients of the three cameras
- Equalization among detectors or multi-angular calibration: to correct for sensitivity variation over the PROBA-V wide field-of-view
- Characterization of response non-linearity
- Radiometric image quality performance analysis: Noise, MTF, SNR
• A full in-flight geometric characterization and calibration including :
- Geometric sensor model calibration: Post-launch check and calibration of all parameters of the geometric sensor model for each sensor including 55)
- Continuous absolute geometric accuracy check
- Image geometric quality performance indicators such as absolute location accuracy, multi-temporal coregistration accuracy, multi-spectral co-registration accuracy.
Vicarious radiometric calibration: 56)
• Calibration over Rayleigh scattering (oceans)
• Calibration over deep convective clouds (oceans)
• Calibration over sun glint (oceans)
• Calibration over stable deserts
• Calibration over Antarctica (equalization)
• Calibration over oceans during night (dark signal)
• Stability check using the moon
• Calibration validation over Tüz Gölu (meaning slat lake). Tüz Golü is the second biggest lake in Turkey, located in the Central Anatolia Region.
• Calibration validation under flights with the APEX airborne sensor at high altitude.
Technology payloads (EPT, GREAT2, ADS-B, SATRAM, HERMOD)
Next to the VGT-P (Vegetation Instrument-PROBA) sensor complement, the spacecraft is offering slots for technology demonstration payloads.
EPT (Energetic Particle Telescope):
The EPT instrument is developed by QinetiQ Space and the Centre of Space Radiation in Belgium. The objective of EPT is to collect more information on radiation conditions prevailing in Earth orbit. EPT will measure the high-energy particle fluxes with very good energy, angular and mass resolutions. It measures the energy deposited by charged particles into twelve sensitive elements and processes the information to identify the particles (0.2-10 MeV electrons, 4-300 MeV H and 16-1000 MeV He ions) and to determine their energy spectra and angular distribution. 57)
The instrument consists of two "particle telescopes" placed in series separately adapted to low and high-energy ranges. The low-energy section consists of two silicon detectors. The high-energy section is a so-called "range telescope" in which the thicker silicon detector is used as a (DE) sensor and a stack of absorbers and scintillator-based detectors produces a digital measurement of the total energy (E).
The EPT overall dimensions are 205 mm x 205 mm x 190 mm. It has a mass of ~ 6 kg, with the electronic readout included. The power consumption is < 6 W. The maximum energy-dependent geometrical factor of the detector is ~1.5 cm2 sr. The radius of the EPT circular aperture was set to a diameter of 35 mm. The resulting maximum field of view angle is 50º.
Figure 29: Photo of the EPT (image credit: ESA)
Due to the widely varying fluences of electrons, protons and heavy ions within the radiation belts, it was found necessary to provide this instrument with a stunning in-flight particle discrimination capability. This was achieved by performing a thorough characterization of the EPT by an intensive Monte-Carlo simulation using GEANT4 software. With this optimized design procedure a background-free counting is obtained, even in the channels devoted to particles of very low abundance in space.
GREAT2 (GaN Reliability Enhancement and Technology Transfer Initiative):
ESA has identified GaN (Gallium Nitride) as a key ‘enabling technology’ for space, establishing a European consortium to manufacture high-quality GaN devices for space uses, referred to as GREAT2. Among the GREAT2 prototype designs is an X-band integrated circuit design. An extra X-band transmitter incorporating a GaN amplifier will be flown in parallel to PROBA-V’s initial pair of standard GaAs transmitters. The GaN amplifier has been developed at TES (Tesat Electronic Solutions).58) 59)
The main objective of GREAT2 is to measure key parameters of the GaN RF power amplifier in orbit, validating the technology. Moreover, the demonstrator will provide additional redundancy to the main X-band transmitters of the platform.
Figure 30: Photo of the X-band transmitter with the GaN amplifier (image credit: ESA, TES)
Figure 31: Illustration of the GaN amplifier (image credit: ESA, TES)
The X-band transmitter on PROBA-V is produced by Syrlinks in Germany, with the GaN amplifier coming from TESAT in Germany. This amplifier is among the earliest outputs of an ESA-led European consortium to manufacture highquality GaN devices for space uses: the ‘GaN Reliability Enhancement and Technology Transfer Initiative’ (GREAT2). This innovative amplifier also has an adjustable power output, so its use should help to conserve the small satellite’s power consumption while also providing extra redundancy.
Figure 32: Gallium nitride (GaN) circuits on silicon carbide wafers: GaN as a key enabling technology for space (image credit: ESA)
ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast):
ADS-B (also referred to as ADSB) is an air traffic surveillance technology to provide specialized air traffic management and air traffic control services as part of the Next Generation Air Transportation System. The objective is to demonstrate space based reception of ADSB signals transmitted by aircraft (1090 MHz). The system involves aircraft broadcasting their position, altitude, velocity and other measurements on an automatic basis every second or so. Currently air traffic controllers on the ground rely on radar contacts to gain an overview of air traffic. But with ADS-B transmissions, aircraft remain continuously visible, not only to controllers, but also to other suitably equipped aircraft. ADS-B requires no costly ground infrastructure to implement – so sparsely-populated countries such as Australia have been enthusiastic early adopters (Ref. 14).
The idea with this payload is to take up an ADS-B system as is, foregoing any costly equipment upgrades, and investigate if it is technically feasible to receive ADS-B signals in orbit. Proba-V will demonstrate how many aircraft can be observed worldwide and which types – different-sized aircraft are assigned ADS-B systems with differing signal strengths. Over the next two years, researchers intend to test, for the first time, whether continuous monitoring of aviation routes is possible. At present, this cannot be achieved in non-radar airspace; location monitoring from space could close this gap.
When an aircraft flies over the major oceans, large areas without infrastructure or the Polar Regions, it is no longer trackable by ground radar stations – the range of the stations is insufficient. But the aircraft continuously transmit ADS-B signals, with information such as altitude and speed — the DLR project team wants to make use of this. In initial experiments, the project has already proved to be successful. In 2009, during a series of high-altitude balloon flights in northern Sweden, the receiver was able to pinpoint an aircraft flying 1100 km away, from a height of about 30 km. For example, the project could 'see' a flight from Beijing to Amsterdam over the North Sea. In a further experiment in 2012, the researchers flew their receiver on a balloon at an altitude of 40 km and examined the interfering signals that it must cope with in a heavily flown and radar-monitored area. 60)
Instrument: The ADS-B device is provided by DLR and SES Techcom of Luxembourg, the main objective is to test (space qualify) the ADS-B electronic boards in flight-representative configuration to evaluate TID (Total Ionizing Dose). The basic design concept of the ADS-B receiver (1090ES RX) is a single conversion superheterodyne receiver with a down conversion of 1090 MHz to an intermediate frequency of 70 MHz. The IF sampling at 70 MHz is done by a 16 bit ADC at 105 Msps (Mega samples per second). The digital part of the receiver is built around a Cyclone IV FPGA from Altera which combines the complete data processing as well as the communication with the onboard computer of the PROBA-V spacecraft. The digital and the RF section of the receiver are built on an individual PCB each, connected with a 37 pin MDM PCB connector. 61)
For the project team, tracking flights from a satellite is new territory. So far, no satellite has been used to receive ADS–B signals. In this first test, the characteristics of how aircraft radiate the ADS–B signal will be recorded. In the frame of the project, SES Techcom developed and implemented the ground data processing center, which retrieves, processes, analyses and stores all ADS-B data received from the PROBA-V satellite. 62)
The pioneering ADS-B payload will be followed by the in orbit validation mission, which will demonstrate the full technical scope of spaceborne ADS-B. ESA (European Space Agency) has contracted Thales Germany for the development of this next generation ADS-B system, which is progressing on schedule with strong participation of the Luxembourg space industry, such as LuxSpace, with the TRITON microsatellite platform to support the future demonstration mission.
SATRAM (Space Application of Timepix-based Radiation Monitor):
The SATRAM instrument is contributed by CSRC and the Czech Technical University. SATRAM is a radiation monitoring system based on the Timepix detector family which was developed by CERN for terrestrial applications. The Timepix detector is capable to detect all charged particles, including MIPs (Minimum Ionizing Particles) and heavy ions, depositing more than ~5 keV in the pixel sensitive volume with an efficiency of 100%. Based on the PROBA-V results, a full operational radiation monitoring will be developed for future missions (Ref. 12).
HERMOD (High Density Space Form Connector Demonstration)
The HERMOD device is a collaboration developed by the Norwegian T&G Elektro and Spanish DAS Photonics companies. The objective is to test the capacity of a novel multi-line optical fiber and connector design to operate reliably in the space environment. Light-based fiber optics offer numerous improvements on metal wiring for future space missions, including increased bandwidth, reduced mass and decreased sensitivity to temperature, radiation and electromagnetic interference.
The payload electro-optics generate different digital signals to pass through four different optical cables made of 12 fibers and then compare the returned message to the initial one, counting up the number of errors over time. Already employed in terrestrial sectors including the oil industry, these multi-line optical fibers were already being ground-tested for space as part of ESA’s General Support Technology Program when the opportunity arose to fly on Proba-V. A crash effort brought the payload to flight readiness within six months (Ref. 14).
The PROBA-V Mission Control Center (MCC), located at the ESA Redu ground station, is controlling and monitoring the satellite. The PROBA-V MCC hardware and software infrastructure benefits from the generic components already developed for the previous PROBA missions (Ref. 7).
The MCC will be used for instrument monitoring and for issuing instrument calibration requests. During nominal operations, the use of a single TT&C ground station in Redu is foreseen for telecommanding and housekeeping telemetry reception in S-band. The utilization of an additional ground station is foreseen during LEOP and commissioning, to provide additional access to the satellite in the same band. The instrument data and the associated ancillary data are retrieved in X-band via additional Data Reception Stations on the Northern Hemisphere (Kiruna, Fairbanks, Alaska).
Figure 33: Overview of PROBA-V Ground Segment (image credit: VITO, ESA)
The User segment has the task of processing the raw data delivered by the Flight and the Ground segments and to distribute the mission products to the User Community of VGT-P. The User segment consists of the following elements:
- DIF (Data Ingestion Facility) which receives the communication raw data from the Data Reception Station and processes these into instrument, housekeeping and ancillary (orbit, attitude, time correlation data. The PF (Processing Facility) is responsible for all image processing tasks. Triggering of the individual data processing tasks within the PF is controlled by the PQC (Product Quality Center) that is responsible for the quality of the intermediate and final data products used within the PF.
- IQC (Image Quality Center) which encapsulates the calibration workflow of the instrument detectors and is as such responsible for the availability, the correctness and high-level quality of all calibration files used within the PF. The IQC is supported by an Image Quality Team continuously monitoring the quality of all calibration files.
- PDF (Product Distribution Facility) which is responsible for the distribution of all data products through a dedicated WWW interface. Whenever available calibration files need correction or improvement, the IPC (Instrument Programming Center) will request corresponding observations via the MCC in Redu. All data products to be delivered to the external users as well as all critical mission data will be archived within the LTDA (Long-term Data Archive).63) 64)
The PROBA-V User segment will have a GSCDA (GMES Space Component Data Access) compatible interface to allow data services towards ESA Users.
Figure 34: Overview of the user segment elements (image credit: VITO)
Table 7: Products generation/processing level (source: VITO)
AD-SS (ADapter and Separation System) of VERTA-1 (Vega Research, Technology and Accompaniment-1) Flight
The experience gained during the development and the qualification for the launch of the ALMASat-1 AD-SS (ADapter and Separation System) on the Vega maiden flight (launch Feb. 13, 2012), and the launch results led to a joint activity of ALMASpace with the European Space Agency aimed at the development of a wider series of adapters and separation systems based on the same design philosophy adopted for the ALMASat-1 AD-SS. 65) 66)
The target of the new series of AD-SS is the class of spacecraft up to 200 kg mass and separation velocity up to 2 m/s, with the planned development of different configurations to achieve the best trade-off between performance and costs of the AD-SS 200 model characterized by four clamping systems.
The AD-SS 200 configuration shares the same features and advantages derived from the ALMASat-1 experience:
• Tunable and calibrated separation system, allowing to vary the separation velocity from 0 up to 2 m/s
• No pyrotechnical devices involved
• Reduced refurbishing and inspection time during ground operations
• Separation switches for detachment detection included
• Standard LV/SC interfaces.
Separation system: The separation systems, previously mounted on the internal surface of the AD-SS canister (Figure 35) has been embedded in the structure, with the possibility to insert enhanced linear guides, provided by SKF, guiding the separation pads during the entire extension of the four springs, avoiding any undesired lateral forces acting on the spacecraft.
Figure 35: Photo of ALMASat-1 AD-SS 35 before integration (image credit: ALMASpace)
Clamping system: The clamping system for AD-SS 200 has been re-designed to reduce the volume envelope, to reduce the related stay-out zone and also to reduce the leverage of the clamping pins, therefore enhancing the robustness of the entire system. Moreover four guiding pins have been added in order to reduce the effect of degraded release conditions caused by the excessive AVUM angular rate (Figure 36).
Figure 36: Detail of the AD-SS 200 guiding pins (image credit: ALMASpace)
Adapter ring: As illustrated in Figure 36, the interface between the spacecraft and the AD-SS 200 is represented by an adapter ring. In order to adapt the AD-SS to a wide range of mission scenarios and spacecraft, custom adapter rings can be manufactured and installed upon customer request provided its compatibility with AD-SS 200 and spacecraft requirements. In Figure 37, the specific adapter rings for PROBA-V and TDS-1 satellites are shown.
Figure 37: PROBA-V and TDS-1 (TechDemoSat-1) adapter rings(image credit: ALMASpace)
The implementation of an adapter ring as interface between the spacecraft and the AD-SS facilitate the installation of brackets for the umbilical connectors as shown in Figure 38.
Figure 38: Detail of the umbilical connectors and their brackets for PROBA-V adapter ring (image credit: ALMASpace)
Retaining torque: The actuation philosophy selected for the release of the spacecraft from the AD-SS 200 consists in the non-simultaneous opening of the two pairs of clamps, in order to reduce the overall power needed if four NEAs were to be actuated simultaneously.
According to this solution, the first pair of clamps will be initially opened, not affecting the spacecraft positioning on the adapter; successively at the instant of the opening of the second pair of clamps, the spacecraft is left free to separate from the adapter. This solution is made possible by the applied preload and each clamp is sized to be able to guarantee the required torque to retain the spacecraft in the closed position until the last clamp is opened by the separation command.
AD-SS final design: Figure 39 shows the final design of the AD-SS 200 system. The differences with respect the previous model are the number of the clamping systems included (four instead of two) and the load capacity of NEAs included.
Figure 39: Illustration of the AD-SS 200 in closed configuration (image credit: ALMASpace)
Table 8: AD-SS 200 performance parameters (Ref. 66)
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5) Erwin Goor, “SPOT-Vegetation and PROBA-V Interoperability,” GSCB (Ground Segment Coordination Body) Workshop, ESA/ESRIN, Frascati, Italy, June 18-19, 2009
7) M. Claessens, D. Vrancken, K. Mellab, S. Santandrea, “PROBA-V: a Multispectral Earth Observation Mission Based on Small Satellite Technology,” Proceedings of the Symposium on Small Satellite Systems and Services (4S), Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, May 31-June 4, 2010
8) Guillaume Huby, Richard P. Kleihorst, Karim Mellab, Lénaïc Grignard, “PROBA-V, a vegetation satellite,” Proceedings of the SPIE Remote Sensing Conference, Toulouse, France, Vol. 7826, 'Sensors, Systems, and Next-Generation Satellites XIV,' edited by Roland Meynart, Steven P. Neeck, Haruhisa Shimoda, Sept. 20-23, 2010, doi: 10.1117/12.864543
9) Michael Francois, “PROBA Vegetation,” International User Committee #2, Project Status, Brussels, BELSPO (Belgian Federal Science Policy Office), 22-23 February 2011, URL: http://probav-iuc.org/assets/201102/ESA_MF_ProjectStatus.pdf?symfony=ee68c49bb35c3b0befdf3498b10957f2
10) Stefano Santandrea, “PROBA-V Mission,” 8th IAA (International Academy of Astronautics) Symposium on Small Satellites for Earth Observation, Berlin, Germany, April 4-8, 2011, paper: IAA-B8-0202, URL of presentation: http://media.dlr.de:8080/erez4/erez?cmd=get&src=os/IAA/archiv8/Presentations/IAA-B8-0202-1.pdf
12) Davy Vrancken, Dennis Gerrits, Karim Mellab, Stefano Santandrea, “PROBA-V: A Multi-Spectral Earth Observation Mission Based on a PROBA Platform – Status Update,” Proceedings of the 4S (Small Satellites Systems and Services) Symposium, Portoroz, Slovenia, June 4-8, 2012
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14) Sean Blair, “ V For Vegetation - The mission of Proba-V,” ESA Bulletin No 153, Feb. 2013, pp: 10-21, URL: http://proba-v.vgt.vito.be/sites/default/files/ESA%20Bulletin%20_%20PROBA-V%20article%20_%2002.2013.pdf
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16) Michael Francois, “PROBA-V Mission,” ESA, July 5, 2013, URL: http://probing.vegetation.be/sites/default/files/pdf/dag2/1010-Michael%20Francios-Proba-V%20Probing%20Vegetation.pdf
17) “Wide-eyed Proba-V will track global vegetation daily,” ESA, May 4, 2010, URL: http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Proba/SEML40KPO8G_0.html
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22) Davy Vrancken, Dennis Gerrits, Karim Mellab, Stefano Santandrea, “PROBA-V: The Global Vegetation Tracker,” Proceedings of the 64th International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2013), Beijing, China, Sept. 23-27, 2013, paper: IAC-13-B4.4.5
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35) Information was provided by Frédéric Teston, Head of Systems & Cost Engineering Division, ESA
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45) Alessandro Zuccaro Marchi, Matteo Taccola, Michael François, Ignacio Torralba, Alessandro Zuccaro Marchi, Didier Beguin, Jorg Versluys, Yvan Stockman, Ignacio Torralba, Ronald Kassel, “PROBA V Multispectral Imager: Status,” Proceedings of the ICSO (International Conference on Space Optics), Ajaccio, Corse, France, Oct. 9-12, 2012, URL: http://congrex.nl/icso/2012/papers/FP_ICSO-138.pdf
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48) A. Mazzolli, P. Holbrouck, Y. Houbrechts, L. Maresi, Y. Stockman, M. Taccola, J. Versluys, “Baffles Design of the PROBA-V Wide FOV TMA,” ICSO 2010 (International Conference on Space Optics), Rhodes Island, Greece, Oct. 4-8, 2010, URL: http://congrex.nl/icso/Papers/Session%202b/Mazzoli.pdf
49) Jonas Bentell, Koen van der Zanden, Thierry Colin, Siegfried Herftijd, Patrick Merken, Jan Vermeiren, “A Comparative Study of the MSI and Proba-V Linear Arrays under the influence of Radiation,” Proceedings of the 4S (Small Satellites Systems and Services) Symposium, Portoroz, Slovenia, June 4-8, 2012
50) Jorg Versluys, Piet Holbrouck, Avi Blasberger, Dave Kendall( Michiel Vullings, Luca Maresi, “A Passive Thermal Control System on the Vegetation Instrument,” Proceedings of the Symposium on Small Satellite Systems and Services (4S), Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, May 31-June 4, 2010
51) Björn Osterloh, Harald Michalik, Christian Dierker, Sebastian Brandt, Boris Penné, Peter Holsters, “A highly compact Data Handling Unit with real time data compression for the PROBA-V Program,” Proceedings of the 9th IAA Symposium on Small Satellites for Earth Observation, Berlin, Germany, April 8-12, 2013, paper: IAA-B9-1111P
52) S. Grabarnik, V. Moreau, C. De Clercq, L. de Vos, B. Delarué, L. Maresi, “Compact Hyperspectral Imager Breadboard,” Proceedings of the Symposium on Small Satellite Systems and Services (4S), Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, May 31-June 4, 2010
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55) Stefano Mica, Luca Galli, Geert Duhoux, Stefan Livens, Veljko Jovanovic, Alessandra Giustiniani, Jan C. Dries, Joe Zender, Stefano Santandrea, “PROBA-V Geometric Calibration,” Proceedings of IGARSS (International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium), Munich, Germany, July 22-27, 2012
56) Sindy Sterckx, Stefan Adriaensen, Stefan Livens, Wouter Dierckx, Ils Reusen, “PROBA-V IQC: Radiometric Cal/Val activities after launch,” June 22, 2011, URL: http://calvalportal.ceos.org/cvp/c/document_library/get_file?p_l_id=154792&folderId=154592&name=DLFE-2830.pdf
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64) Erwin Goor, Tom Van Roey, “PROBA-V Product Distribution Facility (PDF),” PROBA-V IUC (International User Committee) meeting, BELSPO, Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 18, 2011, URL: http://probav-iuc.org/assets/201102/PROBA-V_PDF.pdf?symfony=ac641a47762fed1225eb58f6af577012
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The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: ”Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors” (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates.