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Thales Alenia Space has delivered the atmospheric sounder for the Megha-Tropiques environmental satellite

05 September 2011

Cannes, September 5 2011. Thales Alenia Space has delivered to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) the flight model of the Radio Occultation Sounder for the Atmosphere (ROSA), which will be integrated into the Indian-French Megha-Tropiques mission designed to study our planet’s atmosphere. The delivery took place at ISRO’s Satellite Centre (ISAC) in Bangalore.

Developed and built under ASI contract, the ROSA instrument is composed of a GPS receiver and two dual frequency antennas to pick up signals through the atmosphere. The instrument conducts its atmospheric sounding by monitoring navigation signals from the satellites of the GPS constellation while – as seen from the observing satellite – they set through the atmospheric limb on the Earth’s horizon or raise from it.

Raw data measured by ROSA are beamed back to Earth where the analysis of the phase delay on GPS signals crossing through the troposphere give a wealth of information, from which it is possible to determine the temperature, pressure and humidity of the atmosphere, and thus to issue forecasts on the evolution and motion of weather fronts, to evaluate climatic trends, and to map the electron density as well as irregularities in the ionosphere in order to predict magnetic storms. The radio-occultation method allows to achieve a better vertical resolution than other infrared or microwave sensors.

The ROSA instrument was entirely designed and built by Thales Alenia Space Italy as prime contractor on behalf of ISRO. The instrument to be integrated on Megha-Tropiques will complement a science payload also consisting in three other instruments, one of which was jointly developed by ISRO and CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales), the French Space Agency, and the other two by CNES alone. This is the third similar sounder to be delivered by Thales Alenia Space. The previous two flight models were launched on September 23, 2009, onboard India’s Oceansat 2 satellite for ISRO, and on June 10, 2011, on Argentina’s SAC-D (Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas) for CONAE (Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales).

Megha-Tropiques is scheduled to reach orbit on September 25 on top of an Indian PSLV launch vehicle, from the Satish Dawan Space Centre in Sriharikota Island, Andhra Pradesh.

The manufacturing of atmospheric sounders such as ROSA is only one of the many aspects of Thales Alenia Space’s activities in the field of atmospheric and environmental monitoring. For more than 30 years, Thales Alenia Space has provided optical and microwave sensors, radars, altimeters and all kinds of instruments, along with the satellite bus designed to carry them to all of the greatest space and environment agencies in the world: ASI, CNES, CNSA, CONAE, CSA, ESA, Eumetsat, European Commission, ISRO, KARI, JAXA, NASA, NOAA, Roskosmos, US Navy…

This expertise has enabled the development of programs that radically changed our vision of the environmental and climate challenges, for instance with three generations of Meteosat weather satellites, the Topex and Jason series of oceanography satellites of ESA’s Earth Explorer missions. In the field of atmospheric sounding, Thales Alenia Space also developed IASI (Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer), the most powerful sounder for atmospheric chemistry, currently in operations onboard the MetOp weather satellite, or Calipso (Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations), which delivers highly valuable information on aerosols and clouds to the climatologists.

About Thales Alenia Space
The European leader in satellite systems and a major player in orbital infrastructures, Thales Alenia Space is a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%). Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio embody the two groups’ “Space Alliance”. Thales Alenia Space sets the global standard in solutions for space telecommunications, radar and optical Earth observation, defense and security, navigation and science. With consolidated revenues of 2 billion euros in 2010, Thales Alenia Space has 7,200 employees at 10 industrial sites in France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Belgium.

Thales Alenia Space Press Contact
Sandrine Bielecki Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 70 94 sandrine.bielecki@thalesaleniaspace.com

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