Disaster Relief/Climate News Satellite

Thales Alenia Space signs contract with ESA to build Copernicus ROSE-L satellite

Thales Alenia Space will serve as prime contractor for this programme with Airbus Defence and Space as the main partner for the radar instrument.

Thales Alenia Space has signed a $586m contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to build the Copernicus Radar Observation System for Europe in L-band (ROSE-L) environmental monitoring satellite, as part of Europe’s Copernicus programme, the first tranche being $109m.

Copernicus is an earth observation programme led by the European Commission with the ESA coordinating and managing the Space component. It provides for the Sentinel satellites series and earth observation data for environmental protection, climate monitoring, natural disaster assessment and other social tasks.

Thales Alenia Space will serve as prime contractor for this programme with Airbus Defence and Space as the main partner for the radar instrument. This mission responds to the requirements expressed by both land monitoring and emergency management services.

Its target applications are soil moisture, land cover mapping, crop type and status discrimination, forest type/forest cover (in support to biomass estimation), food security and precision farming, maritime surveillance and natural and anthropogenic hazards.

In addition, the mission will contribute to the operational monitoring of the cryosphere and polar regions including sea ice mapping and land ice monitoring. Other emerging applications will be possible by the synergetic and complementary observations with C-band and X-band SAR systems.

ROSE-L is a 3-axis stabilised satellite based on the new Thales Alenia Space Multi-Mission Platform product line (MILA) and will embark the L-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instrument dedicated to the day-and-night monitoring of land, ice and oceans offering improved revisit time, full polarimetry, high spatial resolution, high sensitivity, low ambiguity ratios and capability for repeat-pass and single-pass cross-track interferometry.

It is based on a five-panel deployable 11m x 3.6m L-Band, highly innovative and lightweight planar Phased Array Antenna (PAA). The satellite will also carry a set of three Monitoring Cameras (CAM) to monitor the deployment of the SAR antenna and the solar arrays.

Commenting on the contract, Hervé Derrey, CEO of Thales Alenia Space said: “With this contract, Thales Alenia Space confirms its positioning as a key player in earth observation and environmental missions. For services such as the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS) in particular, ROSE-L data will allow reducing the time between the occurrence of a natural or anthropogenic disaster and the first post-disaster image which is of crucial importance for citizen security.”

Massimo Comparini, Senior Executive Vice President Observation, Exploration and Navigation at Thales Alenia Space added: “Thales Alenia Space will capitalise on its flight-proven heritage on Radar Earth observation programmes to serve this new mission. ROSE-L will provide additional European radar imaging capacity above and beyond that provided by Sentinel-1 and thus an opportunity to increase coverage at European and Global level, reducing the time intervals between successive radar images.”

The platform, which is based on the new MILA platform product line, will also be compliant with space debris mitigation requirements using demisable technologies for clean space requirements and mechanical interfaces compatible with a possible future On-Orbit Servicing capability. ROSE-L will be compatible with Vega-C and Ariane 6-2. It will weight 2,060 kg at launch and will be positioned at 700-km altitude.