News Article

SSTL Wins €10.69m ESA Contract For SWIR Spectrometers

The Short Wave Infra-Red (SWIR) spectrometer will be used to measure carbon monoxide and methane, the latter being the second most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) has won a €10.69m contract from the European Space Agency (ESA) via Dutch Space to provide a SWIR spectrometer as part of the TROPOMI instrument for the Sentinel 5 Precursor atmospheric monitoring mission.

The SWIR spectrometer will be used to measure carbon monoxide (CO) and methane (CH4) - the latter being the second most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas - in the atmosphere. The Sentinel 5 Precursor mission will provide a source of accurate and detailed data following the completion of the European Space Agency’s Envisat Mission. This will allow scientists to continue to study both air quality and climate change until Sentinel 5 is launched in the next decade.

SSTL’s Optical Payloads Group will coordinate an industrial consortium including the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON) and Sofradir (France) to procure and integrate the precision remote sensing instrument.

Matt Perkins, SSTL commented, “It is imperative that we maintain the excellent atmospheric and environmental data provided by Envisat, and SSTL is very pleased to take the lead on this important project."

Ruth Boumphrey, Head of Earth Observation at the UK Space Agency, said, “Climate change and air quality are global issues requiring the best scientific and technical approaches and we are very proud that the UK has the technology and experience to lead such an important European space project."

The Sentinel 5 Precursor builds on the developments of the TROPOMI instrument which is led by Dutch Space, The Netherlands, as Prime Contractor. TROPOMI, which is co-funded by The Netherlands and ESA, includes substantially improved SWIR measurements compared to the SCIAMACHY instrument onboard Envisat.

A push-broom replaces SCIAMACHY’s scanning instrument providing much smaller pixels (7km2x7km2 vs 120km2x30km2), and the measurement sensitivity is also greatly improved. Immersed grating technology will increase the effective resolution of the instrument without increasing the size and mass of the module.

Another new development lies in the use of Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT) detectors that are expected to be less susceptible to in-flight radiation damage than the NIR extended-wavelength InGaAs detector arrays onboard Envisat.

Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) is a small satellite company, delivering operational space missions for a range of applications including Earth observation, science and communications. The Company designs, manufactures and operates high performance satellites and ground systems for a fraction of the price normally associated with space missions, with over 300 staff working on turnkey satellite platforms, space-proven satellite subsystems and optical instruments.

Since 1981 SSTL has built and launched 34 satellites – as well as providing training and development programmes, consultancy services, and mission studies for ESA, NASA , international governments and commercial customers, with its innovative approach that is changing the economics of space.

Based in Guildford, UK, SSTL is owned by EADS Astrium NV.
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