Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), has delivered the K-band high gain antenna to be integrated with the rest of the Euclid satellite in its plant in Turin.
Thales Alenia Space in Spain is responsible for the deep space communications system, which comprises the communications panel delivered in 2019 and the high gain antenna, built by Thales Alenia Space in Rome. Thales Alenia Space in Italy is the satellite prime contractor of the Euclid mission and also responsible for the service module while Airbus in France as main industrial partner is developing the instrument.
Euclid, an astronomy and astrophysics mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) scheduled for launch in 2022 on a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, will survey the sky with a 1.2 m diameter space telescope to explore dark energy and dark matter and understand the origin of the accelerating expansion of the Universe. Euclid will map the general structure of the Universe over 10 billion light years to show its expansion and growth during the last three-quarters of its history.
The mission is designed to address two of the most important questions in cosmology today: How did the Universe originate and why is it expanding at an accelerating rate, rather than slowing down due to the gravitational attraction of its constituent matter?
Communicating at 1.5 million kilometers, Euclid will map the 3D distribution of up to two billion galaxies and associated dark matter during a six-year mission, covering most of the observable sky outside our Milky Way. The complete survey consists of 150 thousands high definition images with associated color and spectral information, resulting in close to a petabyte of data to be downlinked.
This huge amount of data will be transmitted by the satellite from its orbit around the L2 Sun-Earth Lagrangian point at a distance of 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth using its K-band (26 GHz) radiofrequency data transmission system to the ESA’s 35m deep space stations located in Cebreros, Spain, and Malargüe, Argentina. Euclid also incorporates an X-band system to control and monitor the spacecraft, and measure its distance to Earth.
The contract for the development of Euclid’s communications system has been one of the largest contracts of the company in its 30 years of activity in Spain. Eduardo Bellido, CEO of Thales Alenia Space in Spain, said, “The high gain antenna completes the delivery of the communications system in this important mission, one of the flagship programs of the European Space Agency, which will help us improve our understanding of the Universe. A milestone of which we are very proud and that consolidates Thales Alenia Space in Spain as a European reference in space communication systems.”