The LISA Pathfinder satellite, a European Space Agency (ESA) mission, was successfully launched from the Kourou launch site in French Guiana. Thales Alenia Space has supplied on-board and ground segment equipment to Airbus Defence and Space, prime contractor of the satellite. The LISA Pathfinder mission goal is to test the technology in space required for the detection of low-frequency gravitational waves, predicted by Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity. It will put two test masses in a near-perfect gravitational free-fall, and control and measure their motion with unprecedented accuracy. To do this, it will use inertial sensors, a laser metrology system, a drag-free control system and an ultra-precise micro-propulsion system.
Thales Alenia Space provided the X-band transponder, one of the key spacecraft units that will act as the unique interface between the satellite and the ground segment. It receives commands from the ground segment and transmits spacecraft telemetries, instrument information and ranging signals.
Thales Alenia Space has also provided the Power Specific Check-Out Equipment hardware and software, simulating the solar panels and the batteries, and dedicated to test the spacecraft’s power sub-system during assembly, integration and validation phases.
Thales Alenia Space has more than 30 years’ experience in scientific instrumentation for European missions. The company also has an extensive expertise in the field of command and telemetry units in the S, X and Ka bands, successfully proven in European space exploration missions. The LISA Pathfinder transponder, like all the TT&C equipment developed in recent years by Thales Alenia Space for the most famous journeys through the Universe, is designed around a digital platform, the same one used in the Gaia, Juno, JWST and AMOS 4 & 6 programs, followed then by the new generation, including those for the BepiColombo, ExoMars 2016 and 2018, Solar Orbiter and Euclid missions.
Date: Dec 2, 2015