SMILE is a new, open-to-use, flexible mission control and validation environment based at ESA’s operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany.
Made up of a lab and two antennas (ESOC-1 and ESOC-1a), any ESA member state business, university or organisation can request to use SMILE, to explore methods of operating their small satellites and any other related activity.
Known more formally as the Special Mission Infrastructure Lab Environment, the SMILE lab and antennas provide operators with the ability to test and validate their missions and control systems, for example by supporting cubesats or testing and validating mission control systems before launch and exploring innovative operations concepts.
The techy stuff: What can SMILE do?
The ESOC-1 antenna is a 3.7 metre single parabolic reflector, which supports S-Band up and down links and X-Band down links, with an angular velocity of up to 10 degrees per second in a three axis system.
The ESOC-1a antenna is a radio amateur facility. It supports VHF (Very High Frequency), UHF (Ultra High Frequency) up- and downlink and Amateur S-Band downlink.
Both antennas can be scheduled to run automatically, and received data can be stored and provided later or received in real time.
What can you do with SMILE?
The SMILE LAB provides a flexible control room area, including related tools such as voice loops, timing systems, and more. The area can be used to conduct space to ground communication tests with Cortex, like using the Space Link Extension (SLE) protocol, access different data analysis tools on ground, and remotely monitor and control the antennas.
In addition, specific Virtual Machines on the SMILE LAN can be provided to support your mission or experiment, and much more.
Activities at SMILE are coordinated through regular user meetings, ensuring timely response to evolving needs of the missions and the flexibility to accommodate specific needs. Current operators of SMILE include among others OPS-SAT and Meteron. We are also looking into the experimental support of ExoMars, and its first acquisition with ESOC-1.
Want to SMILE?
For anybody interested in using SMILE, please contact the SMILE team SMILE@esa.int.