The word avionics is a contraction of 'aviation electronics', referring to the data handling sub-system, guidance navigation and control devices and associated software flown aboard a satellite.
EMC refers to the ability of electrical equipment to operate safely in its environment, neither causing non tolerable electromagnetic disturbances to other equipment in its environment nor suffering performance degradation due to electromagnetic disturbances being present in that environment.
Antennas are the way that a satellite maintains communications with Earth. They are expressly designed for transmitting and receiving EM radiation. On the ground, other antennas are the counterparts that relay the satellite signals to base stations.
Satellites of all kinds have one central characteristic in common. To fulfil their various purposes, they all have to reach out beyond themselves either to receive commands, transmit scientific findings, relay telecommunications, perform remote sensing or, increasingly, deliver precision navigation and timing data.
Satellite systems rely on electricity to keep operational, but their power subsystems require careful design and management. The level of power produced by solar arrays – the dominant electricity source for almost all missions – varies greatly over time depending on satellite and planetary motion and short- and long-term space environment effects.
Solar cells are a familiar element of satellites, arranged in solar arrays on wings extending from a spacecraft's body or draped around its hull. The vast majority of satellites rely on solar power because space offers an endless abundance of sunshine.
Batteries are an essential technology for space. The store of onboard power they offer can be vital for keeping missions operational in all circumstances.
ESA maintains a Europe-wide network of specialized laboratories supplementing the technical services and competence provided by the ESTEC laboratories and the ESTEC Test Centre.
Last update: 9 October 2012