Why is RF Payload Systems important?

Envisat sensing the Earth
Envisat sensing the Earth

Microwave radio signals serve as the backbone of communication between space systems and the ground. Telecom satellites are representing the largest commercial satellite application to now and they require continuous performance development and technological improvement to cope with the very aggressive worldwide commercial competition.

Whether they be space science, Earth observation or telecom satellites, our space-based infrastructure is constantly growing more sophisticated and expected to handle and communicate ever larger amounts of data.

New technologies and techniques are required to respond to this steady increase in data rates, with signal coding and modulation for more efficient use of the spectrum and transponders and amplifiers establishing reliable radio links across thousands of kilometres of space.

Specialised expertise is also required in support of the design and evaluation of new types of microwave and millimetre-wave-based science and Earth observation instruments such as synthetic aperture radar (SAR), radar altimeters and radiometers. Specialised analysis tools and software are also developed in order to evaluate their performance.

Most of all, the availability of space-based radio navigation is well on its way to revolutionising terrestrial transportation and related aspects of everyday life. When Europe's Galileo satellite navigation system is completed in the next decade it will enable numerous life-critical applications such as air traffic control, so its accuracy and reliability need to be assured.

Last update: 16 September 2009

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