You are here

Micro-accelerometers completed

Czech space engineers finished the flight hardware development for ESA Swarm mission

Czech R&D specialists from the Aerospace Research and Test Establishment (VZLU) in Prague completed the very last piece of flight model of micro-accelerometer – special measurement device for ESA SWARM mission. Accelerometers will be moved to Germany for integration into satellites at EADS Astrium premises.

The mission objective of the Swarm mission is to map changes of the Earth’s magnetic field and monitor its inner processes. This may be accomplished by means of a set of new generation satellites, keeping onboard special magnetometers and other measurement hardware. One of such important hardware is a set of micro-accelerometers, delivered by the Aerospace Research and Test Establishment in cooperation with other 14 Czech workplaces. The set of three satellites is going to be launched from the Russian cosmodrome Pleseck in the summer 2012. The prime contractor for satellites delivery is EADS Astrium.

Micro-accelerometers are instruments capable to detect and measure very fine magnitudes and changes in acceleration. Such support enables scientists to accurately assess the impact of non-gravitational forces on the satellite movement along its orbit around the Earth. This way various biasing impacts on the measurement of the magnetic field may be mitigated. 

“Thanks to the Czech membership in ESA is our involvement and contribution to the whole mission significant and to some extend irreplaceable. In the field of the development of micro-accelerometers, the Czech Republic belongs to the absolute world’s cutting edge country, since the development of the first generation of this special hardware began already in the 80s”, adds to the topic Jan Kolar, the director of the Czech Space Office.

Impact of Swarm

Magnetic field of the Earth creates a shielding envelope around our planet, protecting us against electrically charged particles of the solar wind and plays also important role for the navigation on the Earth. Magnetic field of the Earth is not homogeneous and its intensity changes with time. This process may have a long-term global impact on climate and biosphere.  The major goal of the Swarm mission is to monitor and measure current intensity of the magnetic field, assess processes within it and evaluate their impact on climate and system of oceanic currents.

Swarm project follows on previous research on geomagnetic field and, according to Martin Sunkevic from the Czech Space Office, brings several new innovative approaches: “Swarm mission is unique in its capabilities to measure not only space, but also time related distribution and changes of the intensity of the magnetic field. In order to meet such mission objectives three identical satellites are going to support the joint goal, each of which is expected to orbit along its own polar low Earth orbit in height from 400 to 550 kilometres above Earth’s surface. The satellite constellation is designed in a way to enable very fine measurement of the direction and intensity of the Earth’s magnetic field. ”

Czech space industry

The development of the flight hardware for Swarm is a success. According to the Czech Space Office, there have been in total around 30 projects running with Czech participation, all of which had started after the Czech Republic became member of ESA. Another 10 projects were already completed.

“It becomes obvious, that Czech workplaces know how to grab the opportunities, which we have at ESA. I am convinced, that the number of workplaces involved in space programmes will gradually rise.  Already now there is an evidence of other 10 new workplaces recently involved in ESA projects,” points out Kolar.

The Czech Space Office organizes a series of workshops and lectures for existing as well as new applicants in ESA space programmes. The main purpose of these events is to introduce participants with regulations and standards of ESA projects.