Germany, 29 March 2007: Germany’s next-generation TerraSAR-X uses sophisticated ground infrastructure to deliver Earth observation data to scientists and commercial customers. Open-source software developed at ESA’s Operations Centre is helping to make the mission a success.
The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is on track to launch TerraSAR-X, an Earth observation mission using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) in the next few weeks, and is now finalising a sophisticated ‘ground segment’ infrastructure that will support the satellite, or space segment, for mission control and data distribution.
A key part of the ground segment is the Mission Control System, and DLR has adopted SCOS-2000 (Spacecraft Operating System 2000) software, developed at the European Space Operations Centre (ESA/ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany. SCOS-2000 is available to European industrial and agency partners under an open-source licensing scheme and is helping foster profitable business opportunities.
So-called ‘open-source’ software is gaining wide popularity for Internet and enterprise applications, and requires that the source code be distributed freely so long as the licensee also agrees to make any modifications or improvements freely available to others.
This has the effect of making all subsequent improvements freely available to the entire community of users, who need pay only for support and maintenance provided by industrial contractors; the improved source code itself remains free.
High-resolution radar images of planet Earth:
Circling the Earth in a polar orbit at an altitude of 514 km, TerraSAR-X will collect high-quality X-band radar data of the entire planet. The satellite will operate independent of weather conditions, cloud coverage and illumination, and will be capable of delivering data at a resolution of up to 1 metre. Using SCOS-2000, TerraSAR-X will be controlled from the German Space Operations Centre, located at DLR’s Oberpfaffenhofen facility near Munich.
Open-source model provides business opportunities:
Under the open-source licensing scheme, ESA’s SCOS-2000 software is available to European industry who can offer the product for free in combination with value-added installation, support and maintenance services.
ESA software supports public-private partnership and TerraSAR-X will be launched with joint funding from both the public and private sectors. As contractor, DLR is responsible for management of the entire project and, together with DLR research institutes, will pay 80 percent of the satellite’s cost; EADS Space, a European private space enterprise, built the satellite and is financing the remaining 20 percent.