Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), has signed an amendment to the Crystal Agreement with Airbus Defense & Space, the satellite’s main contractor.
This amendment provides for the development and qualification of the Interferometric Radar Altimeter IRIS (Interferometric Radar Altimeter for Ice and Snow) on board the Crystal Mission (Copernicus Polar Ice and Snow Topography Altimeter). The Crystal Mission is part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Copernicus expansion program in partnership with the European Commission. The Copernicus flagship program provides a wide range of environmental monitoring and in-situ data as well as environmental monitoring and protection, climate monitoring and natural disaster assessment services aimed at improving the living standards of European citizens. The signing of this amendment marks an important step in the continuation of the Crystal Mission, which aims to measure the thickness of sea ice and the height of ice caps – two major indicators of climate change.
The first phase (B2) of the agreement signed with Airbus in 2020 for the initial design of the Altimeter has been finalized, the device has successfully passed the initial design review. The Altimeter is now entering its detailed design, qualification and final development phase (CD phase). It will be delivered to Airbus in 2025 for integration into the Crystal Mission Satellite, which is scheduled to launch in 2027. For the first time, the Crystal Satellite will carry a dual-frequency radar altimeter in the Ku and Ka bands for measurement and monitoring. Density of sea ice and excessive snow. Measurement of sea ice thickness will support marine activity and assist in planning activities in the polar region. IRIS will use its interferometric radar mode to measure and monitor changes in ice holes and glacier altitudes around the world.
IRIS will significantly improve the measurement accuracy of its predecessor SIRAL-2 (a Ku-band-only altimeter, currently on ESA’s Earth Explorer CryoSat 2 mission), thanks to its dual-frequency operation and adding height measurements from sea level. Crystal missions, which have a global reach, to better understand and observe the Earth’s climate in the context of rapid climate change.
Harvey Dere, chairman and CEO of Thales Alenia Space, said: “Thales Alenia is proud of its expertise in space space altimetry and its long-standing tradition of understanding and observing climate in the service of this important mission, as well as its proven in-flight heritage achieved with the SIRAL-2 mission. The polar region has a real impact on the global climate model, thermohaline conduction and the planet’s energy balance. A long-term program for observing CRISTAL’s topography such as polar ice, ocean and snow is therefore extremely important. A
The development of the IRIS Altimeter is based on the legacy of many Thales Alenia Space Altimeter product line programs, including CNES (French Space Agency) satellites SIRAL-2, Poseidon 4 Board Sentinel 6 / Jason-Cash, Jason-CS, Agency), and the Karin Board SWOT, CNES’s Satellite and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Thales Alenia Space is also the first manufacturer to verify an SAR interferometric altimeter (SIRL) in orbit, thus providing unique capabilities in the field of electronics and interferometric radar antennas.
About the contribution of art in CRISTAL
Thales Alenia Space in France is responsible for the IRIS Altimeter, Thales Alenia Space in Belgium is responsible for supplying power to the Ku and Ka band semiconductor power amplifiers and Thales Alenia Space Oscillator in Italy is the power supply for the super stable. Also, Spain’s Thales Alenia will supply S-band transponders (SBT) for space crystal satellites.
Thales Alenia Space: World leader in space altimetry
Thales Alenia is a world leader in space altimeter, a strategy for studying sea level, sea ice thickness and river and lake levels, as well as land, ice holes and seabed topography. The company has provided numerous instruments dedicated to marine missions, such as the Topex-Poseidon and the Poseidon Altimeter for the Jason 1, 2 and 3 satellite CNES. Thales Alenia Space has developed the AltiKa Ka-band altimeter for the French-Indian oceanographic satellite SARAL and the ultra-high resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) altimeter SIRAL 2 for the Cryosat-2 satellite. ESA, capable of measuring changes in sea ice thickness and continental ice mass with unprecedented accuracy. Also, the SRAL SAR altimeter on the Thales Alenia Space Sentinel-3 board, the SWIM altimeter on the CFOSat satellite for CNES, which measures the wave spectrum and provides the SADKO altimeter on the Russian GEO-IK.