Astrium delivers microwave radiometer for the Sentinel-3A satellite

24 October 2013

  • The Microwave Radiometer (MWR), delivered to Thales Alenia Space, is one of four main instruments on the ESA satellite that is part of the Copernicus programme
  • The MWR joins Astrium’s successful line of Earth-observation instruments

Astrium, the world’s second ranking space company, has delivered the proto-flight model (PFM) of the microwave radiometer (MWR) (an instrument for the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Sentinel-3A environmental monitoring satellite) to the prime contractor Thales Alenia Space for installation on the Sentinel-3A satellite.

The MWR works alongside the SRAL radar altimeter on the Sentinel-3 topography mission and determines the amount of humidity contained in the path of the radar pulses. This data can be used to compensate for interference caused by the level of humidity, therefore increasing the accuracy of the ocean height measurements.

Its data can also be used to characterise physical variables of the soil and the cryosphere, as well as to evaluate surface energy balances. The MWR is a noise-injection radiometer (NIR) that operates at two frequencies (23.8 and 36.5 GHz). It weighs approximately 25 kg, measures 1400 x 630 x 630 mm and has a power consumption of 34 watts.

The second flight model, to be integrated on the Sentinel 3B satellite, has reached a very advanced stage. Final integration of the electronic and thermal control units is scheduled for January 2014 and will be followed by a test campaign that will run from February to April 2014, with a final delivery around mid of 2014.

Antonio Cuadrado, Head of Astrium in Spain, said: “This contract is a further addition to the long list of Astrium contributions to the Sentinel satellites. We are playing a significant role in every one of them. Also, it helps to consolidate Astrium’s role as prime contractor of instruments in Spain”.

The instrument was developed by Astrium through its two subsidiaries in Spain, Astrium CASA Espacio as the prime contractor, and Astrium CRISA in charge of the radiometer processing electronics subsystem, while the Radiometer Front End Electronics was supplied by Thales Alenia Space

The Sentinels are a series of operational satellites designed to respond to European observation needs, as part of the European Union’s Copernicus programme. The Sentinel-3 mission is specifically designed to ensure long-term collection and operational delivery of high-quality measurements for ocean, land and atmospheric services and it will be operated by EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. Through its centres in France, Germany, Spain and the UK, Astrium is making a major contribution to the Sentinel satellites in its capacity as the main contractor for the Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-5 precursor satellites and a number of instruments (the Sentinel-1 radar, Sentinel-3 MWR, spectrometers for Sentinel-4). 

About Astrium

Together, pioneering excellence 

Astrium is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the second in the world. It is the only global company that covers the full range of civil and defence space systems, equipment and services.

In 2012, Astrium had a turnover over €5.8 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide.

Its three business units are: Astrium Space Transportation, the European prime contractor for launchers, orbital systems and space exploration; Astrium Satellites, a leading provider of satellite system solutions, including spacecraft, ground segments, payloads and equipments; Astrium Services, the Space services partner for critical missions, providing comprehensive fixed and mobile solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.

Astrium is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2012, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of €56.5 billion and employed a workforce of over 140,000.

Press contacts:

Jeremy Close
Media Relations UK
Astrium United Kingdom
Tel.: +44 1 438 77 3872
Gregory Gavroy
Astrium France
Media Relations France
Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32
Ralph Heinrich
Media Relations Germany
Airbus Defence and Space Germany
Tel.: +49 89 60 73 39 71
Fax: +49 89 60 78 53 39
Francisco Lechon
Media Relations Spain
Airbus Defence and Space Spain
Tel.: +34 91 5 86 37 41
Fax: +34 91 5 86 37 82


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