15 March 2018 – Thales Alenia Space shipped today the broadband radiometer (BBR), a scientific instrument for the European Space Agency’s Earth Cloud Aerosol and Radiation Explorer (EarthCARE) satellite mission. Designed and built by Thales Alenia Space in the UK, it was shipped to satellite prime contractor Airbus integration center in Friedrichshafen, Germany.
The EarthCARE mission, developed in co-operation with JAXA in Japan, will improve our understanding of the relationship between clouds, aerosols and radiation and their combined effects on the Earth’s climate system. This high-priority mission will enhance our understanding of the science behind climatology and weather prediction.
The broadband radiometer will measure both reflected solar flux and Earth thermal flux, taking measurements across the spectrum from ultraviolet to the far infrared. It comprises three telescopes, sophisticated calibration systems and specifically developed detectors to cover the entire spectrum. A significant design and engineering challenge, the BBR will set a new standard in satellite radiometry.
Thales Alenia Space’s engineers in the UK led the design, construction and testing of the BBR. Other British companies and universities made significant contributions to this instrument, including STFC RAL Space (telescope assembly), ESR (mechanism assembly) and SciSys (onboard software). The BBR is the first core optical Earth Observation instrument produced by a British team for an ESA mission for more than 20 years.
“By designing, building and testing the sophisticated BBR instrument, Thales Alenia Space is proud to serve the largest and most complex Earth Explorer mission to date,” said Ben Olivier, CEO of Thales Alenia Space in the UK. “It represents ten years of collaborative and constructive work between teams from industry and academia, who have had to overcome tremendous technical challenges. Thanks to their efforts it is the first instrument to be delivered for integration in to the EarthCARE satellite. We would like to thank Airbus Defense & Space for entrusting Thales Alenia Space in the UK and its highly skilled engineers with this landmark mission.”