31, May 2016

ESA Open Invitation To Tender AO8696
Open Date: 24/05/2016
Closing Date: 05/08/2016 13:00:00

Status: ISSUED
Reference Nr.: 16.1EE.04
Prog. Ref.: TRP
Budget Ref.: E/0901-01 – TRP
Tender Type: C
Price Range: 200-500 KEURO
Products: Satellites & Probes / RF / Microwave Communication (Platform and Payloads) / Antennas / Omnidirectional, Helix, Horn, Parabolic, Phased Arrays / Platform vs Payload
Technology Domains: Electromagnetic Technologies and Techniques / Antennas / Array Antennas and Standalone Radiators
Establishment: ESTEC
Directorate: Directorate of Technical & Quality Manag
Department: Electrical Engineering Department
Division: Electromagnetics and Space Environment D
Contract Officer: Ferreol, Audrey
Industrial Policy Measure: N/A – Not apply
Last Update Date: 25/05/2016
Update Reason: Loaded a new Clarification (English version)

Penetrators are small probes that penetrate the soil during a high-speed landing. They have been implemented in previous missions to Mars and the Moon (such as MARS 96, DS-2 Mars Picroprobes, Lunar-A) as a way of probing the surface composition. The data is typically sent to an orbiter in the UHF band and from the orbiter back to Earth. ESA has been developing penetrator technologies for application to potential future missions to Jovian moons and Mars. With regards to a penetrator antenna, two possible configurations are considered depending on whether the antenna penetrates the surface or not. If the antenna remains attached to the penetrator structure and therefore penetrates the soil, the use of low frequencies (few MHz) might be required to overcome the propagation losses inside the surface, both absorption and scattering. Although this may simplify the antenna configuration, it introduces a risk due to the uncertainties of the surface properties itself. If the antenna does not penetrate, i.e. stays on the surface, it would remain attached to the penetrator with an umbilical cord. In that case, the antenna shall be released before the impact and located far from the crater generated by the penetrator. In this way, the communications performance can be made largely independent of the surface material properties and crater configuration. Amongst others, antenna technologies like self deployed water-proof textile patch antennas, parachute antennas or harpooned monopoles could be considered. This solution however, involves new challenges in terms of environment, high g-forces during impact, release and deployment strategy, factors which shall be investigated within the activity. This activity shall review the baseline mission scenario identifying the critical parameters applicable to the antenna designs such as composition of the soil/ice, surface and surrounding environment (dielectric constant, water content, humidity, roughness, homogeneity),attitude and penetration depth of the probe, mass and volume available and peak gain and pattern coverage required for the communications link to an orbiter. Different architectural designs for the antenna configuration including the radiating element, tether to the penetrator, release mechanism, landing structure and unfurling mechanism shall be evaluated and proposed to the Agency for final selection. A preliminary design of the antenna configuration shall be performed and critical breadboarding and testing activities shall be carried out to prove the design. Testing of the release mechanism, survivability of the antenna to the impact, unfurling mechanism and RF performance before and after impact shall be undertaken.

If you wish to access the documents related to the Invitation to Tender, you have to log in to the ESA Portal.