Space equipment supplier Oerlikon Space has signed a contract with Gooch and Housego for its Modular Fibre Optic Assembly (MFOA).
Oerlikon Space will use the MFOA as part of its work with the European Space Agency (ESA) on its SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) mission. The MFOA will specifically be used in the first-ever polar-orbiting, space-borne 2D interferometric radiometer - a revolutionary measuring technique.
The MFOA, ideal for this application due to the carefully controlled optical path lengths of fibre, has undergone vigorous testing to qualify for use in this space application. The MFOA, and other fibre optic products, are manufactured in the Gooch and Housego Torquay facility, which has recently completed a 7,000 square feet expansion that will see production capacity increased by 50 per cent.
Scheduled for launch in 2009, SMOS is the second Earth Explorer Opportunity mission to be developed as part of ESA's Living Planet Programme. As well as demonstrating the use of the new radiometer, the data acquired from this mission will contribute to furthering knowledge of the Earth's water cycle. The data acquired from the SMOS mission will lead to better weather and extreme-event forecasting, and contribute to seasonal-climate forecasting. As a secondary objective, SMOS will also provide observations over regions of snow and ice, contributing to studies of the cryosphere.