Microwave Journal

International Report

October 1, 2001

International Report

PPARC Lets Planck Cooling Contract
The UK's Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) has awarded UK contractor SEA (Group) Ltd. a £2 million contract covering the development and supply of its 4 Kelvin Cooler Drive Electronics (4KCDE) package for use aboard the European Space Agency's Planck mission. Planck is designed to map the first light background cosmic microwave radiation that appeared in the universe following the so-called Big Bang. As such, it is intended to add to the sum of scientific knowledge concerning the creation of the universe and the way in which it is evolving. The Planck vehicle itself (which is due to be launched during 2007) incorporates a 1.5 m telescope that focuses detected radiation onto Low and High Frequency Instruments (LFI/HFI). Of these, the HFI is intended to detect variations in the background temperature of deep space and as such, requires its detectors to be maintained at a temperature of approximately 1°C above absolute zero. The SEA 4 4KCDE equipment is designed to control and drive mechanical coolers that will maintain these detectors at a temperature of (as its designation suggests) 4 Kelvin. A company spokesman notes that the 4KCDE programme will last approximately two years, with delivery of a flight cleared model scheduled for May 2003. Alongside SEA, the development of the Planck vehicle's cooling system is noted as also involving the Cryogenic Systems Group and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory's Space Instrumentation Group.

Israel to Supply Wedgetail ES/ELINT System
Israel's Elta Electronics Industries Ltd. has been awarded a $60 M contract covering the supply of an advanced electronic support (ES)/electronic intelligence (ELINT) system for use aboard Australia's Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft programme. Within the programme, Elta is acting as a subcontractor to BAE Systems Australia and is cooperating with local industry. An Elta spokesman characterised the equipment that is being supplied as offering instantaneous 360° surveillance and the ability to track a variety of airborne and surface targets. The spokesman also noted that Australia's selection of an Elta ES/ELINT system for the Wedgetail platform was based on customer satisfaction with and the proven excellent performance of a similar system already supplied for use aboard the Royal Australian Air Force's AP-3C maritime patrol aircraft. Here, the equipment supplied is understood to be a variant of Elta's EL/L-8300MPA system. According to Elta, L-8300MPA covers the 0.5 to 18 GHz frequency range and has instantaneous bandwidth and ES/ELINT sensitivity values of 4 GHz and better than -70/-80 dBm, respectively. When applied to the AP-3C, the system's direction-of-arrival accuracy is noted as being better than 2° RMS. System weight is reported as being approximately 175 kg, with system coverage being 360° in azimuth and ±135° in elevation.

Philips Launches First Cost-effective Power Train Solution for Next Generation CPUs
Netherlands contractor Philips Semiconductors has launched what it claims to be the market's first cost-effective integrated power train solution for next generation central processor units (CPU) and other high current digital signal processing (DSP)/ application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) voltage regulation module applications. Designated as the PIP201-12M, the device is designed to meet the thermal and power requirements of CPUs such as the Intel® Pentium® 4 Northwood and AMD Athlon™ processors. Scheduled to enter volume production during December, a single PIP201-12M device is described as integrating all the power and driver functions required for single-phase, synchronous buck conversion and as being suitable for use in multi-phase architectures where a single device is provided for each phase. PIP201-12M is further noted as being compatible with industry standard single- and multi-phase pulsewidth modulators. The device also utilises an Amkor MicroLeadFrame™ packaging. Here, a near-chip-scale, plastic-encapsulated format with a copper leadframe substrate is used that offers Amkor's ExposedPad™ technology as an enhancement. So configured, the device incorporates a die-attached paddle that is exposed on the bottom of the package surface as a means of efficiently routing heat when soldered directly on to a PCB.

US Wins EMPAR Signal-processing Award
US contractor Mercury Computer Systems (MCS) Inc. has been awarded a $7.4 M contract covering the supply of its RACE++™ PowerStream™ MP-510 systems for use in the Alenia Marconi Systems European Multifunction Phased Array Radar (EMPAR). EMPAR is slatted for installation aboard the next generation of air defence frigates being built for the French and Italian Navies. MCS claims that MP-510 represents the most advanced and scalable embedded system on the market and notes that a single MP-510 system can be scaled up to 180 G4 processor in a single chassis. Here, the arrangement that is said to provide more than four times the intercommunication bandwidth of conventional RACE++ systems. Within EMPAR, MCS's RACE++ multicomputers will be used to provide the order of real-time signal processing necessary for the system to analyse and adapt its mode of operation from task to task.

Astrium Meets Obligations with Sale of Wheel Business
As part of the European Commission's approval for the creation of the pan-European Astrium space company, the conglomerate has concluded the sale of its spacecraft momentum/reaction wheel business to the Dutch contractor Stork Product Engineering (SPE - a part of the Stork Aerospace Group). Under the deal, SPE has acquired the rights and hardware necessary to maintain production of mechanical wheels for both institutional and commercial customers. The acquisition strengthens SPE's existing space business that includes the supply of mechanical and electronic units for the International Space Station's European Robot Arm and ignition systems for the Ariane 5 rocket's Vulcain engine. Prior to its sale, Astrium's wheel business had supplied devices into the European Space Agency's Olympus communications satellite and Soho, XMM, Integral and Rosetta scientific missions; Canada's Radarsat 1; the UK's Skynet 4 military communications satellite; and the Orbital Science Corp.'s Apex and SeaStar vehicles. The largest wheel produced by Astrium is claimed to have offered the highest performance of any such capability offered by a European supplier.

R&S Upgrades Bluetooth™ Protocol Tester
German contractor Rohde & Schwarz (R & S) claims that its PTW60 Bluetooth protocol tester can now offer more than 100 verified test cases that comply with the latest version of the Bluetooth specification. Here, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group issued Bluetooth Specification 1.1 compliant test vectors during July. The PTW60 device is described as being able to implement more than 100 of these abstract test vectors as executable test cases and has applications in the areas of Bluetooth chip set manufacture, the development of protocol software and final product testing. Test cases available (Release 5.0) include those for the protocol layers baseband, link manager, service discovery protocol, link disconnection and data transfer in master and slave modes. R & S also notes that with the aid of a simple tool, PTW60 users can combine selected test cases and repeat them as required and that the implementation of all protocol layers as software provides enhanced system flexibility when required to meet specific customer requirements.