Proba-V Undergoing Testing Prior To Launch
January 14, 2013

ESA Proba-V Microsatellite Nearing Completion

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

The European Space Agency's (ESA) Proba-V microsatellite is going through some testing to ensure it is fully ready to start charting global vegetation every two days.

The microsatellite will be launched in April, after which it will be flying a miniaturized version of the Vegetation sensor on France's full-sized Spot-5 satellite.

Proba-V is being tested at a specialized Interspace facility in Toulouse, France, undergoing rigorous simulations of its take-off conditions and the hard vacuum and temperature extreme it will be enduring in space.

ESA said the microsatellite's assembly was completed by prime contractor QinetiQ Space at its facility in Kruibeke, Belgium last month.

The satellite carries a wide-angle telescoped for its main Earth-monitoring instrument, as well as a pair of radiation sensors, a fiber optic connector experiment, a prototype radio transmitter based on the semiconductor gallium nitride, and a test receiver to track aircraft in flight all around the globe.

Its payload is standard for ESA's Probe series of satellites, which aims to help give space experience to some promising new technologies from smaller companies that do not have easy access to space.

Proba-V is a quasi-operational mission, serving a waiting community of users, according to ESA. It will be extending France's Spot-5 satellites' nearly 15-year continuous record of observations.

There are more than 100,000 registered users of Vegetation products around the world, and the data has helped to contribute to hundreds of published scientific papers.

Prova-V will observe compatible spectral bands while delivering a spatial resolution three times sharper.

The microsatellite will also be flying a radio amplifier based on gallium nitride. This base offers higher power levels and radiation resistance.

Prova-V will be the world's first space mission to detect Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast signals from aircraft as well. This will help provide an overview of air traffic.