Airbus Defence and Space

A scientific adventure supported by Airbus Defence and Space and Infoterra

Science Travellers’ has given secondary school students, the decision-makers of tomorrow, the opportunity to discover what’s at stake for the future of our planet and to take a scientific and socially-responsible approach to such issues by participating in three expeditions to environments which are much affected by global warming: ‘Ice Travellers 2006’ took them to the Arctic; ‘Sand Travellers 2007 to the Sahara; and ‘River Travellers 2008’ into the depths of the Guyanese forest.

The expeditions allowed them to get hands-on experience of exploration and of the demanding world of scientific research. In parallel to their studies, they prepared and made a genuine expedition into an exceptional region. They conducted a real scientific campaign in a natural environment greatly exposed to climate changes. And they took part in developing space technologies related to Earth observation and saw, first-hand, the state that our planet is in.

Based on information gathered in the field and data from Earth observation satellites, the reports on environmental impact, climate, biodiversity, icecap melt, desertification, the state of the forest and the planet’s water reserves ring alarm bells. With its emphasis on fostering scientific study and sensitising as many people as possible to the issues that threaten our planet, the ‘Science Travellers’ project is based on the latest advances to emerge from space research and its concrete applications in the public domain.

For Airbus Defence and Space and its subsidiary Infoterra, ‘Science Travellers’ was a unique opportunity to demonstrate the importance of the GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) programme to the general public.

Airbus Defence and Space and Infoterra have developed a lightweight system to allow teams in the field to communicate and exchange geo-localised information with a coordination centre. This system combines navigation (GPS receiver), satellite communications (narrow band and broad band) and geographical information (satellite imagery and maps). In this way, the coordination centre can remain in permanent contact with the teams in the field and share directly with them the same geographical information (team position, points of interest, other environment-related information, etc.).

The ‘Science Travellers’ expedition therefore provided an excellent opportunity to try out telecommunications and Earth observation systems that could be used in extreme conditions and by people not specialised in space technologies, in zones with no normal radio communications coverage.

GMEShuman resources

Did you know ?

"All systems go" for the Helios IIB satellite built by Airbus Defence and Space


  • Satellite now operational in all image acquisition modes

  • Upgraded ground stations delivered to partner countries by Airbus Defence and Space

  • Three Helios observation satellites now in orbit


Toulouse, 27 April 2010 The in-flight acceptance of the Helios IIB satellite has been successfully completed by Airbus Defence and Space on behalf of the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) and under delegation from the French space agency, CNES. Helios IIB will now enter its operational phase serving the partner countries France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Greece and Germany.  CNES will be responsible for in orbit operations.


The first images provided by the satellite were already being presented to military officials just a few days after the launch on 18 December 2009 – exactly five years after the launch of Helios IIA.


CNES, DGA and Airbus Defence and Space teams have spent three months checking that the satellite is in full working order. New software has also been installed to enable the Helios ground user segment to operate the three Helios satellites now in orbit. The results of the checks were all positive and the DGA has now declared that it’s "all systems go"!


In related news, Airbus Defence and Space has installed a Helios ground station in Gelsdorf that will enable users in Germany to obtain the same direct access to the system that the programme's four original partner countries enjoy. Airbus Defence and Space is also working on a sixth station in Greece, which will be fully operational in the upcoming months.


Since development work first began on Helios I over 20 years ago, Airbus Defence and Space has been prime contractor for both space (satellites) and ground user segments for military space observation systems serving the French military. Only the United States can rival the performance and operational levels of its European counterpart.


About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2009, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €4.8 billion and more than 15,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure, Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment and Airbus Defence and Space for the development and provision of secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security satellite communications equipment, geo-information products and services, and navigation services.


AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2009, AIRBUS Group generated revenues of €42.8 billion and employed a workforce of more than 119, 000.


Press contacts:

Daniel Mosely (Airbus Defence and Space UK)                                                      Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 8180

Matthieu Duvelleroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR)                                              Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32

Ralph Heinrich (Airbus Defence and Space GER)                                                   Tel.: +49 (0) 89 607 33971

Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP)                                                 Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41