Communicating with spacecraft
IFMS provided ESA with the capability to communicate with and control the Rosetta probe. It was used by them to measure the position and speed of the spacecraft on its journey to comet 67P, as well as receive the signals from Rosetta to help produce the amazing images seen from the mission.
The system addressed two key challenges.
The first was to navigate the spacecraft during its 10 year mission which saw it travel around 800 million kilometres away from the Sun and close to the orbit of Jupiter. IFMS was so powerful it could measure the speed to within fractions of a millimetre per second and the distance of spacecraft to within a metre anywhere in the Solar System.
The second was to create a very sensitive and clever receiver that could pick-up the incredibly weak signals sent back to Earth and convert them into data that can be used to communicate the findings of the mission. The real images seen of the Comet will have been received by IFMS.
Always innovating, our space technology is constantly evolving
Our TTCP system can download information with data rates of up to 300 Mbps, from 1.5 million km away and can measure the distance of a spacecraft to within 1cm anywhere in the solarsystem. It is already in use at the UK Goonhilly Earth Station and with the European Space Agency, who are using it track the BepiColumbo mission as it flies by various planets like Venus and Mercury.