TT&C Systems

ESA Deep Space Antenna Systems

SED provided three deep space antenna systems to the European Space Agency (ESA), used for ESA’s deep space and high-elliptical-orbit missions. Each system included a 35m antenna system, located in Australia, Spain, and Argentina. In each case, the antenna system communicates with the spacecraft, sending commands and receiving health, status, and scientific data. The systems form the backbone of ESA’s Deep Space Network and are used for numerous flagship science and exploration missions led by ESA. As prime contractor, SED was responsible for program management, system design, final installation and commissioning, and overall technical performance. SED placed and managed major subcontracts with companies in Germany, France, Australia and Spain.

The demanding management and technical requirements of this program demonstrate the depth of our capabilities. The antenna system, designed for 15 years of operational use with a mean time between failures of 15,000 hours, consists of the following subsystems that meet the requirements shown:

  • RF Subsystem – Simultaneous reception of Right- and Left-Hand Circular (RHC, LHC) polarized signals at S-band (2 GHz) and X-band (8 GHz) using liquid helium-cooled amplifiers to obtain the very high signal to noise performance required to receive the weak signals from deep space. Transmission with RHC or LHC at S-band simultaneous to receiving operations using 20 kilowatt water-cooled amplifiers. Similar transmission at X-band and reception at Ka-band (32 GHz) capabilities are optional considerations.

  • Beam Waveguide Subsystem – Shaped metal reflecting plates direct and focus RF signals between the movable 35 meter parabolic reflector to the stationary RF feeds mounted in the antenna base.

  • Servo/Tracking Subsystem – The antenna must slew through 0 to 360 degrees in azimuth and 0 to 90 degrees in elevation at slew rates of greater than or equal to 0.4 degrees per second. The antenna pointing mode is program track capable of 26 milli-degrees accuracy at S-band, 11 milli-degrees at X-band, and 5 milli-degrees at Ka-band.

  • Mechanical Subsystem – The antenna diameter is approximately 35 meters and the antenna must be able to operate in constant wind of 45 km/h with gusts to 60 km/h. It must survive 180 km/h winds.

  • Monitor and Control Subsystem – Both local and remote monitor and control is provided for all parameters that characterize subsystem performance, status, and fault conditions.

  • Antenna Foundation and Tower – The antenna is mounted on a concrete foundation and tower building to provide the rigid support required to maintain the pointing accuracies under wind conditions. The tower houses the antenna system equipment

ESA Assemble