As prime contractor for the European Space Agency (ESA), Spain’s EOSOL Group has formally completed the validation and testing phase for the CRYO Project, accomplished in collaboration with Airbus DS (Spain).
Under the CRYO project, two low-frequency, high-bandwidth, circularly polarized feeders (one covering the 400-900 MHz band and the other covering the 900-2000 MHz band) have been developed. These feeds will illuminate future Earth observation radiometers, which will be used to study the thickness of ice layers in Earth’s cold regions at resolutions that current instruments cannot achieve.
The final review (FR) took place in November 2022 at ESA’s Estec technology centre in Noordwijk, NL, where ESA technical experts declared successfully completed the CRYO project.
An antenna to monitor ice variations on the planet.
These radiometers will make it possible to collect information on key parameters in polar areas, such as ice cover, ice volume or sea surface salinity, which cannot be adequately monitored with current instruments. In fact, it will be possible to study their effect and their relation to global climate change, which is of vital importance today.
Members from ESA, Airbus and EOSOL during the TRB meeting held at EOSOL’s facilities (Mutilva-Spain) in Mutilva, Spain, in September 2022.
EOSOL, in collaboration with Airbus DS Spain, has been working on the development of a feed array to fed a reflector antenna having a diameter of more than 10m. The development has consisted of several phases, including: review of the state of the art, evaluation of critical elements, preliminary and detailed design, prototype manufacturing and RF testing.
Among the different phases of the project, it is worth highlighting the radio-frequency (RF) and mechanical design carried out for these low-frequency and high-bandwidth feeds, during which mechanical and thermal analyses were carried out to ensure the viability and survival of the sub-system in a future mission. Within this design, and relying on the experience of Airbus, RF behavior at antenna level was simulated and analyzed, using the aforementioned reflector. In this way, it has been verified that the ground illumination would be suitable for the mission. The accommodation of the feed array and antenna within a possible satellite platform has also been considered
All this work has made it possible to arrive at the test review board with the models manufactured satisfactorily and the RF tests completed with satisfactory results. As a final part of the project, EOSOL and AIRBUS worked on drawing up project conclusions, evaluating the limitations encountered and proposing future improvements that will enable this type of mission to reach space in the near future.
Manufactured UHF UWB feed (left) and measured/simulated radiation pattern 1,4GHz (right).