ESA’s Sentinel-3A was successfully launched on the 16th of February. On board it has four instruments: Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI), Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR), Synthetic Aperture Radar Altimeter (SRAL) and Microwave Radiometer (MWR). Amongst other marine and Earth observation applications, these instruments will allow Sentinel-3A to map sea-level change and surface temperature, perform water quality management and monitor vegetation health.
Three point-to-point SpaceWire links are used between the higher data rate OLCI, SLSTR and SRAL instruments and the Sentinel-3A payload data handling unit (PDHU).
The image shown features Spain, Portugal and North Africa and is one of the first images taken by the OLCI instrument.
For more information please see the ESA Sentinel-3 website.
Image © Copernicus data (2016)
The start of a new era of Mars exploration for Europe is planned to begin on the 14th of March 2016 with the launch of the ExoMars 2016 mission. The ExoMars 2016 mission consists of the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli, and is a joint venture between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency. TGO will study the atmosphere of Mars. Schiaparelli will demonstrate a range of technologies for entry, decent and landing on Mars.
ESA has long used SpaceWire for payload data handling and the Trace Gas Orbitor is another example of this. The second ExoMars mission is planned for launch in 2018, and comprises a rover and a surface science platform. The rover will use SpaceWire extensively to interconnect various instruments, mass memory and processors.
For more information please see the ESA Robotic Exploration of Mars website.
Image © ESA/ATG medialab