Electronics ready for cutting edge climate satellite
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Electronics ready for cutting edge climate satellite

PRESS RELEASE: Understanding and predicting climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity this century. Chalmers researchers have now developed measurement equipment that can dramatically increase our understanding of the impact of atmospheric gases on climate.

“We have produced the space electronics of the future: something that is very small, uses very little power and offers high performance.” This is how one of the latest students at Chalmers to be awarded a PhD, Peter Sobis, describes his research within component development for space satellites.

“We can with a greater degree of accuracy now measure the composition of the atmosphere and increase our understanding of how pollutants affect our climate.”

Peter Sobis, together with Chalmers and the company Omnisys Instruments AB, has developed measurement equipment that is part of SteamR – the second largest space initiative in Sweden. The radiometer SteamR (Stratosphere Troposphere Exchange And Climate Monitor Radiometer) is the Swedish contribution to the space project PREMIER, which is being run by the European Space Agency, ESA. ESA’s task, based on continuous measurement of atmospheric gases, is to develop better climate models and create a better understanding of climate change.

This is the first time researchers have succeeded in producing an integrated and very compact sideband-separating radio receiver that offers high performance, for work in the Terahertz band. The new receiver enables simultaneous measurement of the existence of several greenhouse gases and other harmful pollutants although with a greater degree of accuracy than previously.

The atmospheric layer that SteamR will investigate is 6-28 km above the surface of the earth. Here the atmosphere is cooled down and becomes space in the layer that is most sensitive to the gas composition of the atmosphere. It will be possible to measure steam, ozone, methane, cloud and aerosols – three-dimensionally and continuously – to provide information about the composition of the atmosphere and to be able to follow the changes that are taking place.
Back in the early 1990s, Sweden (Chalmers, Rymdbolaget, Omnisys and others) were involved in satellite research with the launch of ODIN (2001), which is now celebrating 10 years in space. ODIN was built for two purposes: to search for water and oxygen deep in space and to monitor ozone and greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The plan is to launch the successor, SteamR, into space within five years. A decision will be reached by the ESA next year. Omnisys is responsible for the development of the instrument’s high-frequency receiver, where several key components have been developed by Peter Sobis, Omnisys’s industrial PhD student at Chalmers.

Through Peter’s work, Omnisys and Chalmers will have a prominent position in the development of key components for environmental satellites and atmospheric research in space – from design to the production and assembly of complete systems,” states Martin Kores, President of Omnisys.

The key to this success has been ongoing collaboration between industry and the Swedish research community.

Peter Sobis’ thesis:

For more information on ESA’s future projects is available on the organization’s website.

For further information, please contact:
Peter Sobis, PhD, Terahertz
and millimetre wave laboratory, + 46 31 772 17 39, peter.sobis@chalmers.se
Jan Stake, Professor, Terahertz
and millimetre wave laboratory,
+46 31 772 49 83, jan.stake@chalmers.se