PROBA-2 is the second of ESA's 'PRoject for OnBoard Autonomy' spacecraft. It uses the same platform as PROBA-1 which has been operating in Sun-synchronous orbit since October 2001, mainly acquiring multi-spectral images of the Earth. Onboard of PROBA-2 are a suite of instruments demonstrating the use and feasibility of new, innovative technology, some of them with a scientific purpose.
In addition to demonstrating the usability and the technological readiness of innovative instruments and technologies, PROBA-2 carries four experiments to observe the Sun and study space weather.
The spacecraft, weighing 130 kilograms, is a box-shaped structure with two deployable solar panels. The primary mechanical structure consists of three aluminum honeycomb panels arranged in a H configuration and a bottom panel that acts as the interface to the launch vehicle. PROBA-2 is three-axis stabilized. The spacecraft attitude is controlled via reaction wheels.
|SWAP||Sun Watcher using APS detectors and image Processing - an extreme-ultraviolet telescope (SWAP) using new pixel sensor technology (APS), that measures the solar corona in a very narrow band.|
|LYRA||A Large Yield RAdiometer that monitors four selected ultraviolet bands.|
|DSLP||Dual Segmented Langmuir Probe to measure electron density and temperature in the background plasma of the Earth's magnetosphere.|
|TPMU||Thermal Plasma Measurement Unit to measure ion densities and composition.|
Technology Demonstration Experiments
Among the many demonstrators there are:
- a new type of lithium-ion battery, developed by SAFT (France)
- an advanced data and power management system, containing many new component technologies including the LEON processor developed by QinetiQ Spacenv (formerly Verhaert Space, Belgium)
- combined carbon-fibre and aluminium structural panels, developed by Apco Technologies SA (Switzerland)
- new models of reaction wheels from Dynacon (Canada), startrackers from DTU (Denmark) and GPS receivers from DLR (Germany)
- an upgraded telecommand system with a decoder largely implemented in software by STT-SystemTechnik GmbH (Germany)
- a digital Sun-sensor, developed by TNO (The Netherlands)
- a dual-frequency GPS receiver, developed by Alcatel Espace (France)
- a fibre-sensor system for monitoring temperatures and pressures around the spacecraft, developed by MPB Communications Inc. (Canada)
- a new startracker development being test-flown before use on the BepiColombo mission, developed by Galileo Avionica (Italy)
- a very high precision flux-gate magnetometer, developed by DTU (Denmark) and magnetometer technology experiments from Lusospace (Portugal) and ZARM TechnikAG (Germany)
- an experimental solar panel with a solar flux concentrator, developed by CSL (Belgium)
- a xenon gas propulsion system using resistojet thrusters and a solid-state nitrogen gas generator to pressurise the propellant tanks, developed by SSTL (United Kingdom) and Bradford (The Netherlands)
- an exploration micro-camera (X-CAM), developed by Micro-cameras & Space Exploration (Switzerland)
- new GNC algorithms developed by NGC (Canada)
PROBA-2 was launched on a Rockot launcher on 2 November 2009 as a co-passenger to ESA's SMOS spacecraft. After the final release of the Breeze upper stage, PROBA-2 flies in a Sun-synchronous, near polar orbit at an altitude of between 700 and 800 km.
Mission Operations Centre
The Mission Operations Centre (MOC) is located in Redu, Belgium. Redu antennas 3 and 4 as well as an antenna from Svalbard, Norway, are used for uplink and downlink passes in S-band. Typically, there are 9-10 passes per day available to download about 50 Mbytes of binary, compressed data.
PROBA-2 Science Operations Center
The PROBA-2 Science Operations Center (P2SC) is co-located with the Solar Influences Data Centre (SIDC) at the Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels.