International Report

ESA Horizons 2000 Programme Moves Forward

The European Space Agency's (ESA) Horizons 2000 long-term scientific research programme has moved a step forward with the recommendation from its Industrial Policy Committee that Matra Marconi Space be awarded a design and development contract for the Agency's Mars Express spacecraft. Scheduled for launch in early June 2003, Mars Express should reach Mars the following December. Upon arrival, the vehicle will be placed in an elliptical, quasipolar orbit where it will be used for a range of data-gathering tasks, including global, high resolution photogeology; evaluation of the interaction of the Martian atmosphere with the interplanetary environment; global atmospheric mapping and composition measurement; subsurface radar sounding (with an emphasis on water detection); evaluation of detectable atmosphere-surface interaction; and global mineralogical mapping.

The vehicle is also scheduled to act as a communications relay between Mars and Earth while carrying the UK's Beagle 2 lander. This task is of major importance because Mars Express (along with a number of multimission vehicles) is scheduled to contribute to a major international push to explore Mars during the early part of the 21st century. Accordingly, the ESA vehicle will not only support interplanetary communication with its own lander, but will also contribute to maintaining links with a range of landers and rovers that are scheduled to be deployed from other vehicles onto the Martian surface during the 2003 to 2007 period. Mars Express' onboard Beagle 2 lander is being developed by the UK's Open and Leicester Universities and is designed to perform exobiological and geochemical research in an attempt to establish whether or not life exists on Mars.

RRDS Develops New Naval Electronic Warfare Package

In a surprise announcement, UK contractor Racal Radar Defence Systems (RRDS) has confirmed that it is supplying a new-generation jamming and electronic support (ES) suite for use aboard the royal Netherlands navy's four De Zeven Provincien class frigates. (Previous reports suggested that these vessels would be equipped with the ARGO APECS II system.)

Designated as the Sabre suite, the RRDS equipment comprises a mast-top ES antenna assembly, a masthead ES processor cabinet, two above-deck jamming transmitter units (with integral techniques generators), a below-deck ES equipment unit and a single operator workstation. The ES subsystem is based on the Outfit UAT equipment that RRDS supplied to the UK's royal navy. The subsystem will cover the 0.5 to 18 GHz frequency range (extendable to 40 GHz if required) with accuracies of 2° and 4° in the 2 to 18 GHz and 0.5 to 2 GHz frequency ranges, respectively. Sensitivity is -62 dBmi (typ) and the equipment is designed to operate in pulse densities of 106 per second.

Each of the system's jamming units is composed of an integral receiver subsystem, a digital RF memory-based techniques generator, a steerable transmitter unit, two phased-array transmitter units and a stabilised platform. Of these components, both the steerable and phased-array transmitter units operate within the 7.5 to 18 GHz frequency band with the steerable subsystem optimised for jamming techniques that require polarisation diversity. The subsystem features an overall effective radiated power of up to 180 kW and can handle up to six threats simultaneously within a 180º sector.

Morocco Expands Its Telephone System

Morocco's state telephone provider Itissalat al Maghrib has contracted with Germany's Siemens AG to expand its existing exchange system and provide additional exchanges to meet the country's growing telephone requirements. This action became necessary after the country's telephone provision tripled during the 1990 to 1997 period to the point where five out of every 100 people within the total 28.7 million population gained access to a telephone. Under the terms of the agreement, Siemens will install enough of its EWSD switching systems to support approximately 180,000 telephone ports by the middle of the year.

Rohde & Schwarz Spectrum Analysers to Support W-CDMA Market

With the launch of its 100 Hz to 8 GHz and 100 Hz to 26.5 GHz Advantest R3267 and R3273 series spectrum analysers, German contractor Rohde & Schwarz claims that it can now supply complete coverage for the wideband CDMA (W-CDMA) standard analyser market. The company notes that both Japan's and Europe's regulatory bodies are currently producing third-generation mobile radio telephone standards and that the W-CDMA specification will form part of these standards.

Both devices provide RF measurement together with IQ modulation and code-domain analysis. The units feature a noise floor from -137 dBm to 26.5 GHz at a minimum trigger bandwidth of 10 Hz, phase noise of -113 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz offset from the carrier, third-order intermodulation distortion of 80 dBc, resolution bandwidth of 10 MHz (max) and RF input division in 5 dB steps. Additional system features include up to 1 Hz frequency counting, fast sweep down to 25 m, remote control interfaces with data transmission capabilities, a floppy disc drive and a 6.5" colour display with a level range of 100 dB and horizontal resolution of 1000 pixels.

Besides standard CDMA measurements, the R3267 and R3273 analysers can measure time alignment error, modulation accuracy, IQ gain error and code-domain power (short code/time domain) at chip rates of 4096 Mcps. Adjacent-channel measurements can be performed at up to 70 dB at 4096 MHz bandwidth.

Europe/US Sign Up for Polar Meteorological Satellites

The 17-nation European Meteorological Satellite (EUMETSAT) organisation and the US' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have signed a formal Initial Joint Polar System (IJPS) agreement in an effort to improve and ensure the long-term continuity of polar-orbiting meteorological satellites. A central plank of the new accord is the agreement to cooperate on provision of a joint polar-orbiting satellite system following the launch of EUMETSAT's METOP-1 vehicle in 2003. Each of the signatories will also provide a common set of core instrumentation for flight aboard their respective components of the new system to ensure data continuity and compatibility with the widest range of users. The common instrument subset will be carried in addition to specific instrumentation selected by NOAA and EUMETSAT for their respective platforms.

A major driver behind the IJPS agreement is the fact that, by the early part of the next century, the US' polar meteorological satellites will only provide the coverage necessary for the creation of Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models during the afternoon. Because NWP modeling requires both morning and afternoon coverage, under the new agreement, EUMETSAT's vehicles will provide the necessary morning coverage.

In terms of EUMETSAT's contribution to the IJPS deal, each of the three planned METOP satellites (which are based on the enhanced SPOT Mk II bus design) will carry a 1500 kg payload that will include a microwave humidity sounder, very high resolution radiometer, scatterometer, Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment package, high resolution infrared radiation sounder and infrared atmospheric sounding interferometer. Additional system components may include a cloud and earth radiant energy monitor, multiband imaging microwave radiometer and precise range and range-rate measuring package. METOP-1 is scheduled to be launched in April 2003; METOP-2 and METOP-3 are scheduled to be launched during the 2006 to 2010 period.