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Electronics Production | May 28, 2008

EADS Astrium wins satellite contract worth €263 million

Europe’s space company, Astrium, has been commissioned by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop and build the EarthCARE Earth observation satellite.
The contract worth € 263 million was signed today in Berlin on the occasion of the International Aerospace Exhibition (ILA) by Volker Liebig, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation, Evert Dudok, CEO of Astrium Satellites and Uwe Minne, Director of Earth Observation and Science at Astrium (Friedrichshafen, Germany), in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and Head of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) Johann-Dietrich Wörner.

EarthCARE (Earth Clouds, Aerosols and Radiation Explorer) will focus on clouds, tiny particles in the atmosphere – aerosols – and their influence on atmospheric radiation. Among other things, EarthCARE will draw up vertical profiles of natural and man-made aerosols, register the distribution of water and ice and their transport by clouds, and investigate the interrelationships between clouds and precipitation and their effects on radiation. It will be possible to derive profiles of atmospheric heating and cooling by clouds from a combination of the measured aerosols and “cloud elements”.

EarthCARE will thus contribute to a better understanding of our climate and deliver valuable data for the numerical forecasting models of climate researchers and meteorologists. Weighing around 1.7 metric tons, the satellite is scheduled to lift off into space in September 2013. EarthCARE will spend three years taking measurements from a polar orbit (97° inclination) at an altitude of about 400 kilometres.

Astrium (Friedrichshafen, Germany) will be responsible for the industrial management of EarthCARE and the integration and test activities. The satellite is equipped with four instruments, two passive and two active sensors that will supply a unique data package with only one satellite mission. Astrium (Toulouse, France) will supply the active laser instrument ATLID, while the platform (Astrium), the Multi-Spectral Imager MSI (SSTL) and the Broadband Radiometer BBR (SEA) are being produced in the UK. The fourth instrument is the Cloud Profiling Radar CPR, which will be supplied by the Japanese Space Agency, JAXA.

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