Airbus Defence and Space was chosen to build new research satellite for French space agency CNES.
Airbus announced about grabbing contract for designing and manufacturing of new research satellite for CNES. It will be MicroCarb, satellite for measuring level of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere. Mission of the satellite (which start is planned for 2020) will be focused on seeking for sources of greenhouse gas, monitoring level of CO2 in atmosphere, analyzing its absorption and studying influence of greenhouse gas for Earth natural environment. Program will be based on cooperation between CNES and following institutions: Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement (LSCE), Centre d’études spatiales de la biosphère (CESBIO), Centre national de recherches météorologiques (CNRM), Groupe de spectrométrie moléculaire et atmosphérique (GSMA), Laboratoire inter-universitaire des systèmes atmosphériques (LISA), Laboratoire de météorologie dynamique (LMD) and Laboratoire de physique moléculaire pour l’atmosphère et l’astrophysique (LPMAA). MicroCarb will be first satellite designed only for measuring and monitoring carbon dioxide fully designed and manufactured in Europe and probably one of the most innovative and technically advanced in the world. MicroCarb will cooperate with Merlin, another satellite for observation of carbon dioxide which will be launched in 2020 as a result of cooperation between CNES and DLR (about Merlin You can read here).
MicroCarb along with Merlin, will be based on Myriade-Evolution satellite bus manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space. Myriade is result of cooperation between Astrium (now Airbus Defence and Space) and CNES and is also known as commercial Astrosat-100 bus. It was presented in 1998 as universal platform for mini research satellites. Version used for manufacturing MicroCarb will be equipped in one deployable gallium arsenide solar array. It will be cube shaped construction (with 60 cm sized sides) based on space frame with total weight around 150 kg. Myriade bus is equipped in Transputer T805 flight control system (based on transputer equipped with 1 Gigabit memory and yielding around 5 MIPS). Downlink with speed up to 400 kbit/s is possible with utilization of two S band transceivers or X band transmitting system working with speed up to 72 Mbit/s. It was not unveiled if Airbus will utilize standard Myriade bus or it will be modified just like during development of Merlin satellite which basically using same technology has weight of 400 kg. MicroCarb will be equipped with dispersive spectrometer operating in near infrared range, for measuring levels of carbon dioxide (with level of 1 ppm) with pixel size of 5 km x 6 km.