CIMR: Unparalleled European Earth observation mission

18 Mar 2022

With climate changes as an established fact at the top of both scientific and political agendas across the globe, there is a dire need to get accurate data about the state of our planet. Satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) are ideal candidates for imaging and measuring the Earth, to gain insights into oceans, atmosphere, sea ice, forestation, among others. Instruments on these LEO satellites may act as remote sensors and exploit both frequency and polarisation to discriminate various geophysical properties.

In this context, the European Space Agency – ESA and the European Commission planned six Earth observation missions as part of the Copernicus program to fill gaps in climate and scientific needs. One of these missions is the Copernicus Imaging Microwave Radiometer (CIMR), a highly ambitious radiometer mission to measure sea-surface temperature, sea-ice concentration and sea-surface salinity with unprecedented accuracy and spatial resolution.

The CIMR instrument will be a conical scanning radiometer with a fully European 8-meter deployable reflector antenna in lightweight mesh technology working in L, C, X, Ku and Ka band. This is already very challenging, not the least to meet the required accuracy in Ka band, but in addition the instrument will have to rotate, which requires an advanced balancing mechanism on the satellite.

In 2018, TICRA became part of a consortium lead by Airbus Defence and Space for CIMR phase A/B1 studies. Later, in 2021, TICRA was selected as subcontractor of Thales Alenia Space to participate in CIMR phase B2/CD studies.

Here, TICRA is responsible for analysing the effect on the instrument performance from geometrical and electrical uncertainties, using TICRA’s in-house Uncertainty Quantification software. Also, TICRA will analyse, using the ESTEAM software, the effect on the antenna pattern of the full satellite platform, and will develop a surface reconstruction algorithm based on in-orbit measurements of the instrument. Finally, TICRA is, in a contract with HPS High Performance Space Structure Systems GmbH, in charge of the challenging RF modelling of the large deployable antenna where both the surface shape and knitted mesh properties are taken into account in advanced reflector antenna modelling in the GRASP software.

The CIMR Preliminary Design Review is planned for the end of 2022, while the Critical Design Review is scheduled for the end of 2024. CIMR launch is planned for 2028🚀

More on the CIMR project here.


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