Testing time for Proba-V, ESA's global vegetation tracker

January 15, 2013
Proba-V satellite.

(Phys.org)—ESA's Proba-V microsatellite is now assembled and midway through testing to ensure it is fully spaceworthy. The miniature Earth-observer, designed to chart global vegetation every two days, will be launched in April.

The testing at the specialised Intespace facility in Toulouse, France, includes rigorous simulations of Proba-V's take-off conditions and the hard vacuum and it must endure in orbit.

It comes after Proba-V's assembly was completed by prime contractor QinetiQ Space at its facility in Kruibeke, Belgium last month.

Completed Proba-V satellite.

Building it was a complex operation. Although smaller than a cubic metre, the satellites carries a wide-angle telescope for its main Earth-monitoring instrument, a pair of , a fibre optic connector experiment, a prototype based on the semiconductor , and a test receiver to track aircraft in flight all around the globe.

Such a crowded payload is standard for ESA's Proba series of satellites, set up to give early space experience to promising new European technologies, especially from smaller companies often lacking easy access to space.

But Proba-V also marks a departure from previous technology demonstrators Proba-1 in 2001 and Proba-2 in 2009. Both later became operational missions once the outstanding performance of their main instruments became clear.

Deforestation in Brazil.

This time around, Proba-V has been conceived as a quasi-operational mission from the start, serving a waiting community of users. 

The V stands for Vegetation: the is flying a miniaturised version of the Vegetation sensor on France's full-sized Spot-5 satellite, intended to extend its nearly 15-year continuous record of observations – dating back to the previous Spot-4 mission, launched in 1998.

There are more than 10 000 registered users of Vegetation products worldwide, and the data have contributed to hundreds of scientific papers. 

Despite being much smaller than the original Vegetation instrument, Proba-V's version observes compatible spectral bands while delivering a spatial resolution three times sharper.

Among other firsts for the mission, Proba-V will fly a radio amplifier based on gallium nitride. Often described as the most promising semiconductor since silicon, gallium nitride offers higher power levels and radiation resistance.

Proba-V will also be the world's first space mission to detect Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast signals from aircraft, building up a global overview of air traffic. 

Explore further: Proba-2's journey to Russia marks its first step towards space

Related Stories

Proba-2 satellite flies into its Russian launch site

September 7, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Proba-2 has reached Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia, where it is being prepared for launch this November. Among the smallest satellites ever built by ESA, it was transported there aboard an Ilyushin ...

Wide-eyed Proba-V will track global vegetation daily

May 4, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The small but powerful camera of ESA's Proba-V mission can fit on a single laboratory table for testing. But when it reaches orbit, this compact sensor will deliver a daily overview of virtually all vegetation ...

Small but agile Proba-1 reaches 10 years in orbit

October 25, 2011

A good photographer needs agility. So it is with ESA microsatellite Proba-1, which turns in space to capture terrestrial targets. Celebrating its tenth birthday this week, Proba-1’s unique images are used by hundreds ...

Recommended for you

New Horizons team selects potential Kuiper Belt flyby target

August 29, 2015

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits ...

Ceres image: The lonely mountain

August 25, 2015

NASA's Dawn spacecraft spotted this tall, conical mountain on Ceres from a distance of 915 miles (1,470 kilometers).

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.