European Space Agency

Miniaturized MWR for SatCom Ground Stations


The project aims at designing and developing the prototype of a miniaturised microwave radiometer to be used as a channel assessment instrument in the ground segment of Satellite Communications systems and in SatCom propagation campaigns. The prototype will represent a step towards the development of a commercial unit aimed at SatCom applications including propagation campaigns.

The project objective is to develop a microwave radiometer system that is optimised for operational use in SatCom ground stations. The MWR shall be optimised in terms of purchase and maintenance cost, mass, dimensions and power consumption and it shall be easy to maintain and operate.


The main challenge is to create a commercially viable product. The trade-off between performance and total cost of ownership and usability is critical. Some choices that have to be made is at which frequencies the radiometer shall measure the sky temperature and how to design the weather protection and temperature stabilization.


The product for which this project is designing a prototype will be cheaper and more user friendly than other now available channel assessment microwave radiometer systems.


The system will consist of two units, one indoor and one outdoor unit. The indoor unit will basically be a standard PC that will be connected with Ethernet to the outdoor unit. The outdoor radiometer system will have one to four radiometer channels. The baseline is to perform the calibration in the same way for all channels, with an ambient load and a noise source, coupled through a pseudo correlation receiver topology and to use FFT spectrometers as back-end in a heterodyne implementation. All radiometer channels will share the same antenna reflector structure and overall package.


The project started in May 2012 and will stretch over two years. A functional design review meeting will be held in October 2012. At this point all system requirements shall have been reviewed and a functional design shall be presented. The project will end with an at least three month long outdoor testing campaign.

Current status

The project started in May 2012 and at the moment the requirements for the product are being carefully reviewed and a first design baseline is being drawn up. Which performance is achievable with different approaches is being analysed.

Status date

Monday, October 8, 2012 - 21:26