084 - Digital Beamforming for GNSS-R Radio occultation payload

084 - Digital Beamforming for GNSS-R Radio occultation payload


GNSS Radio Occultation is a well-established technique while the younger GNSS Reflectometry has seen a rapid evolution around the world, in particular, after the launch UK-DMC satellite in 2003

Some examples of GNSS-R missions flying today are: the NASA’s CyGNSS 8-satellite constellation, the Spire Global cubesat constellation, the FSSCat cubesat, the Chinese Bufeng 1 Twin Satellites and China’s FengYun-3E (FY3E) polar-orbiting meteorological satellite series

ESA has plans to launch the PRETTY cubesat end of 2022 and HydroGNSS Scout mission end of 2024

However, none of the GNSS-R and Radio Occultation payloads can take full advantage of the potential given by the many reflection points available from all GNSS transmitters, the reason being limited field of view coverage: a high performant beamformer would be a game changer.  

Objective: to design and prototype a digital beamforming processor, suitable for new space payloads for small/nano platforms, capable of generating multiple simultaneous beams for GNSS-R and Radio Occultation applications

Description of Innovation/Tasks:  First time development of on-board autonomous digital beamforming of multiple beams for small/compact new space payloads, with medium/large number of channels supported. The innovation also relies on large number of channels, dynamic beamforming, low power.

The activity shall initially review the digital beamforming requirements for GNSS-R and Radio Occultation payloads, define a digital processor implemented in a power-efficient manner, develop power resource efficient digital beamforming techniques and algorithms and demonstrate the function in a representative breadboard.

Expected output

This activity will deliver a representative breadboard demonstrating: 

  1. Compact, New space compatible payloads with much higher measurement accuracy, thanks to highly improved signal-to-noise ratio, 
  2. Increased field-of-view per satellite