Alcatel Alenia Space to build SIRAL-2 radar altimeter for CryoSat-2 Earth observation satellite
Alcatel Alenia Space confirms its world leadership in space altimetry
Paris, October 2, 2006 - Alcatel Alenia Space has signed a contract with EADS SPACE, the satellite prime contractor, to manufacture the SIRAL-2 radar altimeter to be used on the ice sheet monitoring satellite CryoSat-2. As main instrument of the CryoSat mission, SIRAL-2 will be used to determine the thickness of ice sheets on both land and at sea with unprecedented precision.
This contract follows a decision by the European Space Agency (ESA) to replace the CryoSat-1 mission, which was the first Earth exploration mission within the scope of the Living Planet program launched by ESA. In that scope, Alcatel Alenia Space had already designed and built the SIRAL-1 radar instrument on-board the CryoSat-1 satellite.
SIRAL-2 heralds a new generation of space altimeters thanks to its high resolution (250 meters) and interferometry capabilities (measurement of slopes). Following the success of oceanic altimetry missions, it will pave the way to greater understanding of fluctuations in the level and thickness of the polar icecaps and the great ice sheets. This type of data is critical in the development of models used to analyze and predict global warming trends.
Derived from the Poseidon ocean altimeter on the Jason satellite, SIRAL-2 is a high performance and compact (70 kg) instrument that combines three measurement modes:
* Low resolution, for conventional altimetric measurement limited to the relatively flat terrain of the continental ice in the Antarctic.
* Synthetic aperture radar (SAR), to carry out high-resolution measurements of floating sea ice (ice sheets), enabling the indirect measurement of the sheets’ thickness.
* Interferometric radar mode, to study more contrasted terrains, like the very active areas located at the junction of the ice sheet and the Antarctic continent, or Greenland.
With the SIRAL-2 contract, Alcatel Alenia Space consolidates its position as the world leader in space altimetry*. Following the very successful Poseidon oceanographic altimeter, SIRAL signals a new generation of spaceborne altimeters.
*Alcatel Alenia Space’s space altimetry applications: RA on ERS1/ERS2, RA2 on Envisat, multimode radar on Cassini, Poseidon on Topex, Poseidon 2 on Jason-1, Poseidon 3 on Jason-2, SIRAL on CryoSat, Alti-KA in collaboration with CNES and Indian space agency ISRO.
About Alcatel Alenia Space
Alcatel Alenia Space is the European leader in satellite systems and at the forefront of orbital infrastructures. Created in July 2005, the company brings together the vast experience and know-how of Alcatel Space and Alenia Spazio to form a new leading force in European space technology. Alcatel Alenia Space represents a worldwide standard for space development that impacts everybody’s future: from navigation to telecommunications, from meteorology to environmental monitoring, from defense to science and observation. Alcatel Alenia Space is an affiliate of Alcatel (Paris: CGEP.PA and NYSE: ALA) (67%) and Finmeccanica (Milan:SIFI.MI, FNC.IM) (33%).
Alcatel provides communications solutions to telecommunication carriers, Internet service providers and enterprises for delivery of voice, data and video applications to their customers or employees. Alcatel brings its leading position in fixed and mobile broadband networks, applications and services, to help its partners and customers build a user-centric broadband world. With sales of EURO 13.1 billion and 58,000 employees in 2005, Alcatel operates in more than 130 countries. For more information, visit Alcatel on the Internet: http://www.alcatel.com
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