The SENER Group companies supply critical components for MetOp-C06/11/2018 (International)
SENER has contributed to the third European weather satellite, MetOp-C, which will be launched into polar orbit in the early morning hours of Wednesday, November 7, from the European Spaceport in Kourou (French Guiana).
This will be the last in the current series of European weather satellites in polar orbit, part of the Meteorological Operational satellite program (MetOp), a European initiative to monitor climate and improve the weather forecasts produced by the European Space Agency (ESA) and by the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, EUMETSAT. According to ESA, these satellites are hugely important to the accuracy of weather forecasts.
At MetOp-C, the SENER Group companies have been responsible for the design, manufacture and testing of the hold-down and release mechanisms (HDRM) for the antennas of the Advanced SCATterometer (ASCAT) instrument, which measures wind speed and direction over open water, and of the hold-down, release and deployment system for the GRAS Anti-Velocity Antenna (GAVA) of the GNSS Receiver for Atmospheric Sounding (GRAS) instrument, which provides atmospheric temperature and humidity profiles. The companies are also in charge of the design, manufacture and testing of the electronic unit that controls the scanning line-of-sight mirror for the main Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) instrument; of the solid state power amplifiers for low rate picture transmission (LRPT); the radiofrequency filters in different bands; and the antenna for the data downlink.
The SENER group carried out this work not only for MetOp-C, but also for MetOp-A, launched in 2006, and MetOp-B, launched in 2012, both of which are currently in service. The head of SENER's Aerospace and Control Systems Section, José Ramón Villa, notes that "this project is special because three identical satellites were built simultaneously, like a small assembly line." At the same time, SENER also did work to develop the on-board mechanisms for the three satellites. Overall, SENER's role in MetOp allowed the company to gain a foothold in the area of high-precision scanning mechanisms in instruments for weather satellites, which was crucial to its subsequent involvement in Meteosat Third Generation, where SENER is responsible for the whole scanning system.
SENER's participation in the MetOp program also extends to MetOp SG, the second generation of weather satellites, consisting of six probes, which will be deployed by ESA and EUMETSAT starting in 2021. In this new series, the SENER Group companies are responsible for the design, manufacture and verification of the hold-down and release mechanisms (HDRM) and for the deployment and latching mechanism (DLM), which allow the arms on the Scatterometer (SCA) instrument, a key component in these satellites, to be released and deployed. The companies are also in charge of reception equipment for the three radiometers - the Microwave Sounder Radiometer (MWS), the Microwave Imager Radiometer (MWI) and the Ice Cloud Imager (ICI) -, the frequency generation module of the radio occultation (RO) instrument and the telemetry and telecommand antennas.
The SENER group has been, for more than 50 years, a top-tier supplier of electromechanical components and systems, navigation systems (GNC/AOCS), communications, astronomy and optics systems for Space, and it is currently participating in the main programs of ESA and NASA (including, in addition to those already mentioned, Hubble, Galileo, Rosetta, Gaia, Herschel and Planck, IXV, Proba 3, BepiColombo, Solar Orbiter, JUICE, Euclid and ExoMars 2020) and of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). The group stands out as one of the leading suppliers for the ESA's science programs, for its engineering contributions.
The ESA has signed a contract with SENER to expand development work on one of its innovations for in-Space propulsion, the helicon plasma thruster (HPT), designed as part of a joint R&D project The ESA has signed a contract with SENER to expand development work on one of its innovations for in-Space propulsion, the helicon plasma thruster (HPT), designed as part of a joint R&D project with the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M). The helicon plasma thruster is an innovative technology for electric in-Space propulsion that could be a competitive alternative to the current thruster technologies, as it can provide optimum levels of propulsion performance for certain space missions, especially onboard full electric spacecrafts.[+]