Successful testing of MetOp-SG-B Scatterometer antennas

NEW DELHI: The Scatterometer (SCA) antenna subsystem of the weather satellite MetOp-SG-B, built by prime contractor Airbus Defence and Space, has successfully passed the Test Review Board (TRB).

This validates the technical quality of the antenna design and production. Both customers, the European Space Agency and EUMETSAT, are happy with the results and appreciate the efforts made to reach the milestone despite the Covid crisis, giving the green light to Airbus to manufacture the flight models.

For this campaign, the test item was not flight hardware, but a prototype version specially built for initial testing, known as a structural and thermal model (STM). The tests carried out included: two deployments (before the environmental campaign and after the verification); mechanical and acoustic vibration; thermal cycling; and thermal balance. The tests have mainly focused on checking the thermo-mechanical design as well as the correct functionality of the system during the deployment of the two lateral antennas. The STM will now be partially disassembled and several parts used for the flight models.

The MetOp-SG-B Scatterometer (SCA) will provide double the resolution of the first generation MetOp satellites. The SCA measures wind speed and direction over the ocean surface, to help monitor scale phenomena such as ocean winds and continental ice sheets, and check land surface soil moisture – a key driver of water and heat fluxes between the ground and the atmosphere.

The SCA antenna comprises two parts: the electrical subsystem, developed and delivered by Airbus in Friedrichshafen (Germany) and the antenna subsystem by Airbus in Madrid (Spain) which is also responsible for the manufacturing, assembly, integration and testing activities. The qualification of the electrical functionality of the SCA antenna will be carried out during the test campaign of the first flight model that is currently in the integration phase.

A Scatterometer antenna flight model will be built and integrated onboard each of the three MetOp SG-B satellites. The first will be launched in October 2024. Flight models FM2 and FM3 will be placed in orbit in 2031 and 2038 respectively.

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