Thales Alenia Space @ the UK Space Conference 2019
Thales Alenia Space will take an active role at the UK Space Conference, held from September 24 to 26 in Newport, Wales. Organized under the auspices of the UK Space Agency, this conference brings together all major players in the space sector, including manufacturers, users, researchers, universities and agencies. Thales Alenia Space will be spotlighting its broad scope of business, especially telecommunications solutions designed to bring high-speed broadband to isolated areas, via the new KONNECT VHTS (very high throughput satellite) for example. The company will also be showcasing its expertise in Earth observation technologies for environmental monitoring, and its major successes in space exploration.
Thales Alenia Space spearheads efforts to bridge the digital divide in Europe
The digital divide still exists in Europe, as so eloquently shown by the figures: only 27% of European households have access to high-speed Internet, operating at over 30 Mbps. In isolated, often rural areas, with little or no access, it may well be too expensive to provide connectivity via optical fibers, given the small number of households concerned.
KONNECT VHTS © Thales Alenia Space/Master Image Programmes
At the UK Space Conference, Thales Alenia Space will explain the advantages of satellite technology to reduce the digital divide in Europe, using the example of its KONNECT VHTS program. Featuring a very powerful digital processor, this new Eutelsat geostationary communications satellite will provide high-speed Internet anywhere in Europe, especially in isolated areas, while offering service on a par with fiber in terms of both economics and performance. KONNECT VHTS will offer an instantaneous data rate of about 500 Gbps across all of Europe.
Keeping a closer watch on our planet
Copernicus © ESA
By building advanced Earth Observation satellites, Thales Alenia Space is playing a pivotal role in our ability to better understand climate change. The Sentinel satellites developed on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA) for the European Union’s Copernicus program are a key to monitoring the environment in Europe. There are actually six Sentinel families, of satellites or instruments: Sentinel-1 is designed to provide continuity for the radar data collected by ERS and Envisat; Sentinel-2 and -3 are dedicated to monitoring land and oceans. The Sentinel-4 and -5 instruments are designed for meteorology and climatology missions. Sentinel-6 will provide operational continuity for Jason altimetry missions. Thales Alenia Space is prime contractor for the Sentinel-1 and -3 families (4 satellites each), is in charge of the image ground segment for Sentinel-2, and makes the imaging spectrometer carried by Sentinel-5P as well as the Poseidon-4 radar altimeter for the Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 mission.
We have also built a number of Earth observation satellites and instruments for various applications, including oceanography, altimetry, meteorology, mapping, management of natural disasters, climatology, etc.
MTG © Thales Alenia Space/Master Image Programmes
All of Europe’s Meteosat geostationary weather satellites were built by Thales Alenia Space. After having built seven first-generation satellites and four second-generation satellites (MSG), we are now working on the third generation of European weather satellites (MTG), built on behalf of ESA and Eumetsat. This latest generation includes six satellites, four imaging models and two atmospheric sounders.
In 2017, Thales Alenia Space signed a contract with the UK Space agency to work on MicroCarb, a joint French-British mission designed to measure CO2 sources and wells, since this is the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. MicroCarb is the first European mission designed to characterize greenhouse gas flows on the planet’s surface, and also measure the amount of carbon absorbed by oceans and forests.
Space exploration expertise unrivaled in Europe
Venus, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, the Moon, asteroids and comets… Thales Alenia Space is a major partner in Europe’s fantastic missions across the Solar System.
As for the ExoMars mission, Thales Alenia Space was prime contractor for Herschel & Planck, the largest space observatories ever developed in Europe. The company also developed and integrated Corot, France’s own low-orbit “exoplanet” hunter (planets outside the Solar System), and we will be heavily involved in a new program called PLATO, also tasked with tracking exoplanets, but from the Lagrange 2 point, using telescope optics built by Leonardo in conjunction with research institutes and universities. In addition, we are a major contributor to the BepiColombo mission to explore Mercury, the most mysterious planet in the Solar System.
BepiColombo © ESA/NASA
Thales Alenia Space built 25 of the 64 huge parabolic antennas (Europe’s contribution) for the giant ALMA radiotelescope array located on the Atacama plateau in Chile. In addition, we played a lead role on the famous Rosetta-Philae comet mission [especially via assembly, integration and testing of the spacecraft], as well as on Cassini-Huygens. This mission explored the atmospheric layers of Saturn’s most mysterious moon, Titan, and also landed on its surface. The Huygens space probe was built by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor. Also on the agenda at Thales Alenia Space is the European program Euclid, which will help us better understand dark matter.
ExoMars Rover © Thales Alenia Space/Master Image Programmes
In the meantime, Europe is holding its breath in the run-up to the ExoMars 2020 mission. ESA’s rover on this mission should touch down on Mars in 2021. Fitted with a special drill built by Leonardo, the rover will take soil samples at a depth of two meters, in an attempt to discover evidence of past life (bacteria), while the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), launched in 2016, continues its mission in orbit around Mars, “sniffing” the Martian atmosphere to discover traces of methane gas in particular.
From very high throughput satellite solutions to advanced observation systems designed to monitor our climate and impressive achievements in space exploration, Thales Alenia Space will span the spectrum at the UK Space Conference.