Modulight (Tampere, Finland) has supplied fiber-pigtailed laser diodes to the European Space Agency (ESA) for the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite mission set to be launched on November 2, 2009. The lasers, designed and manufactured in Finland, are an essential part of the optical harness of the MIRAS (Microwave Imaging Radiometer using Aperture Synthesis) instrument in the satellite.
Through the use of MIRAS, SMOS will provide global information on surface-soil moisture every three days to within an accuracy of 4% at a spatial resolution of 50 km. In parallel, SMOS will also observe ocean salinity down to 0.1 psu (practical salinity unit) for a 30-day average over an area of 200 x 200 km, which is about the same as detecting 0.1 g of salt per liter of water.
The MIRAS Optical Harness (MOHA) was designed and manufactured by former Contraves Space (currently RUAG Space). Modulight supplied more than 70 lasers to this instrument, which controls the phase synchronization of the distributed microwave antenna elements of the satellite and thereby the whole remote-sensing functionality. The data from SMOS will result in a better understanding of the water cycle and, in particular, the exchange processes between Earth's surface and the atmosphere. This data will help to improve weather and climate models, and also have practical applications in areas such as agriculture and water-resource management.
"We are very proud that we delivered the first-ever communication lasers to space application for a mission-critical function on a science satellite," stated Petteri Uusimaa, Modulight's president and CEO.
For more details on the SMOS mission, see: http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMDR7YRA0G_index_1.html#subhead1.