The final presentation of the results of a study into the use of the 26 GHz Frequency band for ESA ground stations was held at ESOC, Darmstadt, 31st October 2007. The presentation was given Callisto as prime contractor for the study supported representatives from the University of Pavia and ERA Technology. The feasibility study investigated the upgrade of ESA Deep-Space Antenna network to support the newly allocated frequency band for Space Research missions in the range 25.5 to 27 GHz.
The scope of the study included the existing Deep Space Antennas located at New Norcia in Australia and at Cebreros in Spain, as well as the planned third antenna to be located in South America. The New Norcia antenna (DSA1) currently operates in S Band (transmit and receive) and in X Band (transmit and receive). The Cebreros antenna (DSA2) currently operates in X Band (transmit and receive) and Ka band around 32 GHz (receive only). In addition to the challenge of investigating how an additional frequency band could be introduced into the antenna, a major consideration was that the bandwidth at K band is very wide (1.5 GHz) as the missions planned for this frequency allocation could require bit rates up to 400 Mbps. This feature is a major departure from the profile of traditional Deep Space missions using the Deep Space antennas, where telemetry data rates are typically of the order of Kilo bps.
“We are very pleased to have completed this extensive technology study on schedule and within budget” say Steve Rawson, Director of Callisto. “Cooperation between the different partners of the study team was excellent despite the fact that we were spread over four countries of Europe.”
Some of the key findings of this study have been presented at the ESA TTC2007 Workshop in September.