ESA title

Improved Antenna Electronic Front-End for High Resolution X-band Commercial SAR Satellite

Space Segment
  • Payload
  • Product Development
The proposed solution, identified as EFE Plus, is an advanced Electronic Front-End with increased power, based on GaN technology. The availability of an higher power from the front-end electronics allows to increase the transmitted power, enhancing the performance of the SAR Payload. The EFE Plus is a key element to enhance the capabilities of the HE-R1000 TAS SAR Product.
Objectives of the Product

The market evolution of SAR-based Earth Observation systems requires an increase of SAR performance in terms of resolution, together with radiometric parameters quality. Based on the state-of-the-art of present technologies, this objective would be achieved at satellite level by increasing the SAR antenna area with the consequence of increasing the spacecraft mass and size. In order to avoid an increase of costs and complexity due to this inefficient trend of mass and volume (limiting the access to orbit due to launcher envelope constraints and increasing the complexity of in-orbit maneuvers due to the larger SAR antenna size), it is necessary to develop suitable technologies able to enhance the RF transmitted power density and to achieve better SAR performances without increasing, and possibly reducing, the SAR antenna size and mass. The purpose of the provided solution is to increase the RF transmitted power density, in order to enhance the SAR performance without increasing the antenna size and mass; such objective is achieved by using highest efficiency power amplifier and electronics technologies and studying the thermal drainage solutions that are needed to solve the potential thermal constraints due to the increase of the dissipated power density.

Customers and their Needs

Typical Customer needs are summarized in the table below, where the “Pain” associated to the Need and the “Gain” offered by the HE-R1000 product are also reported.

Target customers/users countries

Institutional entities of worldwide emerging countries not yet able to sustain an autonomous national space policy.

Product Description

The EFE Plus is a key element of the active section of the antenna of the HE-R1000 product, an end-to-end Earth Observation System consisting of:

  • a Space Segment constituted by one radar satellite composed of the platform and the SAR-based instrument;
  • a Radar Ground Segment composed of the Core Ground Segment and the Image Analytics Segment.

The key features of the HE-R1000 product are:

  • high revisit time (i.e. multiple data take opportunities per day over the same target), due to its inclined orbit optimized for each specific Customer/area of interest;
  • agile operation (i.e. high maneuverability for image acquisitions and for repointing to successive images) due to satellite low mass and Attitude and Orbit Control System (AOCS);
  • very high resolution granted by the satellite agility and the electronic beam steering of the antenna.

The HE-R1000 product is intended:

  • to deliver Earth Reconnaissance radar imagery in the X-band spectrum;
  • to be used for detection, recognition, identification of objects of interest and detection of changes, with the capability to answer the needs from Defense/Security Users and Civil Users;
  • to be procured/owned/operated by the Customer requiring requires sovereignty over system ownership and in-service operations.

Added Value

Distinctive features of the HE-R1000 product:

  • images with very high resolution and sensitivity (capability enhanced by the EFE Plus)
  • low mass and volume to be compatible with low costs for the single satellite launch and to allow multiple launches for deploying a constellation (mass and volume not impacted by the EFE Plus)
  • through specific mini-Control Momentum Gyro included in the AOCS, the  satellite is agile and capable to frequently acquire images of a selected area/from a selected orbit, solving Regional Emergency Management needs
  • data security: the system is equipped with means for protecting TM and TC and with Data Ciphering/deCiphering HW

Current Status

Kick-Off meeting held on September 9, 2022. Requirements definition phase in progress, Requirement Review scheduled for December 7, 2022.

Prime Contractor Company
Thales Alenia Space
Italy Flag Italy
Contractor Project Manager
Francesco Iacomacci
Thales Alenia Space, Via Saccomuro 24 00139 Roma (Italy)

Phone: +39 06 4151 2477

Mobile: +39 366 6010 818

ESA Technical Officer
Elisa Cipriani

Current activities