It has taken 36 months to develop and build the European Space Agency’s Arctic Weather Satellite. Now, it has been shipped from OHB in Sweden to Germany. It will pass a series of tests there to make sure that it will survive liftoff next year and its subsequent life in orbit.
OHB Sweden is the mission prime contractor for the Arctic Weather Satellite, providing the satellite platform and system integration.
The Arctic Weather Satellite is designed to improve weather forecasts in the Arctic region. There is currently a lack of data for accurate short-term forecasts in the Arctic. The monitoring of the Arctic remains insufficient since geostationary satellites have no visibility of this northerly region.
The Arctic Weather Satellite is actually the forerunner of a potential constellation of satellites, called EPS-Sterna, that the European Space Agency (ESA) would build if the first prototype Arctic Weather Satellite works well.
The EPS-Sterna mission is envisaged as a constellation of six microsatellites in three orbital planes. This would, for the first time, allow for very short-range weather forecasting in the Arctic.
The Arctic Weather Satellite is equipped with a 19-channel cross-track scanning microwave radiometer. The instrument will provide high-resolution humidity and temperature soundings of the atmosphere in all weather conditions.
Passing another milestone this month, we also tested the links between the satellite and the mission control center in KSAT, Tromsø in Norway, which all went according to plan, ESA's Arctic Weather Satellite Project Manager said.
With these critical phases done, the satellite has been shipped to IABG in Germany for its environmental test campaign, which will last until February 2024, he added.
These tests will include exposing the satellite to vibrations and noise during liftoff and the temperature differences in vacuum it will have to endure as it orbits Earth.
Upon completion of the tests, the satellite will be shipped back to OHB Sweden for final checks before it is shipped to SpaceX's launch site in Vandenberg, California in April. Liftoff is scheduled for 1 June 2024 on a Falcon 9 rocket.