SATURNE Microsystems Based on Wide Band Gap Materials for Future Space Transmitting Ultra Wideband Receiving Systems

The next generation of satellites is set to be lig hter, cheaper, and more flexible. Such a technological leap forward is dependent on the development of novel Radio Frequency (RF) front ends, empowering operators to tune the characteristics of the payloads, even when the satellites are in orbit. The project SATURNE addresses this challenge.

When predicting the future, a basic known is the unknown. However, today when companies commission satellites, they are asked to anticipate and define requirements for the whole of the lifetime of the satellite, which might be 15 years.

lndeed, today each satellite is tailor made for its specific purpose.This increases its cost, and limits flexibility as to its use, since once launched, changing the wavelength of the signal the satellite sends back to Earth is impossible. The next generation of satellites is set to be radically different.

Developing flexible RF front ends that enable changing the wavelength of satellite signais in orbit amounts to a technological breakthrough: Mass production of satellite components would be possible - supporting future satellite payloads at lower cost, with smaller mass and with more flexibility, since operators would no longer be required to think decades ahead, but instead simply progressively adapt satellites to new use.

The main concept of the SATURNE project is to realise such novel types of microwave functions. By means of Wide Band Gap (WBG) semiconductors and RF-MEMS switches, the project seeks to enable the development of re-configurable and highly power efficient communication satellite payloads with narrow-, multi- or wide-band channel allocation, at the benefitofoperators, including environ-mental monitoring and cartography in X-band.

For the European space industry, a world market leader in the do-main of commercial satellites, the prospect of such mass production of light and flexible satellites represents a significant industrial potential.


Afshin Ziaei is project coordinator


What do you want to achieve with this project?

SATURNE's objective is to proue the feasibility and inherent advantages of using wideband gap and RF-MEMS based technologies in Intelligent Micro Systems for future space ultra wideband systems.

Why is this project important for Europe?

SATURNE technology will be used in future satellites. This technology will meet the demands from providers and operators for more flexibility and mass reduction, and consequently offer new services. SATURNE will also preserve EU independence in the sat¬ellite domain.

How does your work benefit European citizens?

Multiband satellites will allow more users and services per satellite. This will reduce the number of satellites needed and then reduces the cost for the final user. Mastering this technol¬ogy in Europe will help keeping high¬tech employment in Europe.

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