Airbus Defence and Space


Integrated receiver technology

Passive microwave radiometry is a tool of fundamental importance for earth Observation satellite Observation, Meteorological and Climate Research. Using passive sensors to receive and measure natural emissions produced by the Earth`s surface and atmosphere, important geophysical parameters can be characterised. Airbus Defence and Space with BNSC support are developing the next generation MIC receiver technologies for both LEO, MEO and GEO passive microwave instruments for 2005 – 2025 time scales.

Features / technical details

  • Critical technology for sub-millimetre heterodyne radiometers has markedly improved during recent years, driven by application in meteorology, atmospheric sensing and atmospheric chemistry needs. Both balance and single diode mixers and frequency multipliers have been successfully demonstrated at frequencies up to at least 1 THz and there have been spectacular advances in planar diode technology. Low noise, as well as power amplifier chips are becoming available at lower frequences.

Nevertheless, it remains the case that successful sub-millimetre receivers invariably developed with descrete components complete assemblies remain costly to develop. And are at least part limited in performance and reliability by the hand crafted construction and discrete component interconnects. Airbus Defence and Space , The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Queens University Belfast are currently developing integrated receiver modules, and super low lost air dielectric Frequency Selective Surface(FSS) filters which together are up to 7-fold smaller and a full 3dB better receiver noise performance over existing discrete component architectures.


Meteorological and Atmospheric Chemistry missions for Limb Sounding, Atmospheric Science and Ciimate Research missions usingpassive microwave instruments to receive and measure natural emissions produced by the Earth`s surface and its atmosphere. The type and status of these natural emissions can be characterised by their frequency and strength.

Reference customers

The European Space Agency (ESA) and EUMETSAT are prime end-users for this type of instrument where humidity and temperature profiles play a vital role in both NWP , Nowcasting and Climate research models.