Agency

Ground Station Bologna

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ESA / Education / ESEO

The Ground Station Team at the University of Bologna consists of Professors, Research Assistants and PhD and MSc students. The goal is to set up a primary ground station to monitor and control the ESEO spacecraft, and a secondary ground station to download the payload’s scientific data. To handle the commands and the telemetry data, a mission control system was developed and is currently in the final commissioning phase. 

Providing a ground station for uplink and downlink to the satellite platform and related operations.

The steerable UHF and S-band antennas of the Ground Station Bologna
The steerable UHF and S-band antennas of the Ground Station Bologna

The success of a space mission depends not only on a properly designed and built space segment and a successful launch, it also depends on the ground segment and successful mission operations. A ground segment comprises the infrastructure, hardware, software and procedures that the ground team uses to operate a satellite mission. The team at the  University of Bologna is setting up two facilities that will be part of the ESEO ground station network: 

  • A primary uplink and downlink ground station operating in the UHF amateur radio frequency band (430-440 MHz) using a 2x19 elements crossed Yagi antenna.
  • A secondary, downlink-only ground station operating in the S-band (around 2.4 GHz) using a 3m diameter parabolic antenna.

Both ground stations are based on a Software Defined Radio (SDR), which allows for greater  flexibility in the choice of the modulation scheme, communication protocol and digital signal processing. Both antennas will automatically track the satellite using the azimuth and elevation data computed from a two-line element (TLE) propagator. 

Mission Control System graphical user interface
Mission Control System graphical user interface

The team has also completed the refurbishment of the Mission Control Centre (MCC), located just below the antennas to minimise the cable losses.

In addition to a dedicated post for ground antenna rotators and radios monitoring & control, the MCC provides two complete and independent posts for mission control. One of the them will be fully devoted to ESEO in its 6+12 months mission.

The team is also designing, implementing and testing the Mission Control System, which is essential to handle the telecommands and the telemetry data from the ESEO mission. It offers a graphical user interface to allow the operator to select and send commands and display and store telemetry data.

The Mission Control Centre of the Ground Station Bologna
The Mission Control Centre of the Ground Station Bologna
The ground station team at the University of Bologna
The ground station team at the University of Bologna