European technology is making it easier to catch signals from speeding satellites. SARAS – a Spanish acronym for ‘Fast Acquisition of Satellites and Launchers’ – enables ground stations to acquire signals from newly launched satellites faster and more accurately than ever before.
The system comprises a circular array of eight small radio-frequency sensors that are mounted around the rim of an existing dish antenna. The system was fitted to the 15 m-diameter tracking station at ESA’s ESAC Establishment, seen here during upgrade work, in 2013.
Since then, it has been extensively tested and validated, helping acquire signals from current and newly launched missions including CryoSat-2, XMM, GOCE and Swarm. It also helps the station to acquire signals from multi-satellite missions, such as the three-craft SWARM mission.