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

Jan 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: The importance of plumes

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wide-eyed Proba-V will track global vegetation daily

May 04, 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 ...

Small but agile Proba-1 reaches 10 years in orbit

Oct 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 ...

Proba-2 satellite flies into its Russian launch site

Sep 07, 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 ...

Recommended for you

The importance of plumes

18 minutes ago

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

Ceres and Vesta Converge in Virgo

3 hours ago

Don't let them pass you by. Right now and continuing through July, the biggest and brightest asteroids will be running on nearly parallel tracks in the constellation Virgo and so close together they'll easily ...

A full-spectrum Mars simulation in a box

3 hours ago

There are many reasons why Mars excels at destroying expensive equipment. For one thing, its entire surface is made of partially-magnetized dust. For another, Mars possesses just enough atmosphere so that ...

LADEE mission ends with planned lunar impact

3 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Ground controllers at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft impacted the surface ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

The importance of plumes

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

LADEE mission ends with planned lunar impact

(Phys.org) —Ground controllers at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft impacted the surface ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...