Technological innovation for the ALTIUS atmospheric limb sounding mission

L. Montrone, L. Aballea, D. Bernaerts, D. Navarro-Reyes, S. Santandrea, N. Saillen, K. Sarna, P. Holbrouck, W. Moelans, D. Kendall, D. Mollet, R. De Nutte, S. Demidov, Heikki Saari, J. Ward, R. Kassel, D. Fussen, E. Dekemper, E. Neefs, J. Vanhamel

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientificpeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    The ALTIUS Mission (Atmospheric Limb Tracker for Investigation of the Upcoming Stratosphere) aims at the development of a limb sounder based on a small satellite concept (i.e. PROBA-Next small platform). ALTIUS will monitor the distribution and evolution of stratospheric ozone at high vertical resolution in support of operational services and long term trend monitoring. It will provide detailed stratospheric profile information at high vertical resolution, which is a valuable addition to ozone total column for data assimilation systems based on nadir sounders used by operational centers. In addition, some secondary scientific mission objectives are targeted, including measurements of vertical concentration profiles of other atmospheric species. The ALTIUS Mission was first proposed by the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy and, after several studies in different programmes within ESA, is now being developed as an element of ESA's Earth Watch Programme currently with the participation of Belgium, Canada, Luxembourg and Romania. The ALTIUS Mission concept consists of three spectral imagers flying at an altitude of approximately 700 km Sun- Synchronous Orbit on-board the next generation of PROBA platform. The ALTIUS Instrument shall allow observation of the Earth's atmospheric bright limb in an extended spectral region from the Ultraviolet to the Short Wave Infrared (SWIR). In addition, the ALTIUS instrument shall perform solar and stellar occultation observations in the dark limb. The ALTIUS Instrument three hyperspectral channels are based respectively on Acousto-Optic Tuneable Filters (AOTFs) in the Visible (440-800nm) and SWIR (900-1800nm) range, and a cascade of Fabry Perot Interferometers (FPI) in the UV (250-370nm). The use of tuneable active spectral filter shall allow the ALTIUS Instrument to perform observations with a spectral resolution ranging between 1nm and 10nm in an extremely versatile operational concept. The use of the AOTFs and Fabry Perot technologies constitutes a novelty in the limb sounding missions and its development critical aspects as well as its performances have been proven in the frame of an extensive Instrument predevelopment phase. In this phase the critical technologies necessary to ensure the performance and functionalities of the ALTIUS Instrument have been designed, developed and qualified. In particular the following pre-developments were undertaken to pave the way towards Instrument Preliminary Design Review: Design, manufacturing and qualification of the VIS AOTF Assembly and RF control electronics; Design, manufacturing and qualification of the UV FPI assembly stack and control electronics; Development and qualification of UV filters and coatings. Design and manufacturing of sensor electronics based on selected CMOS sensor for UV and VIS channels; Design, manufacturing and partial qualification of the Instrument mechanism; Bread-boarding of the full VIS channel for functionality and end-to-end performances verification. This paper presents the status and main results of the above-mentioned ALTIUS Instrument pre-development activities. In particular: major outcomes during the development process, achieved performances and lessons learned for the continuation of the ALTIUS Instrument flight model design are being highlighted.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSensors, Systems, and Next-Generation Satellites XXIII
    EditorsSteven P. Neeck, Philippe Martimort, Toshiyoshi Kimura
    PublisherInternational Society for Optics and Photonics SPIE
    ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5106-3005-5
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2019
    MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
    EventSensors, Systems, and Next-Generation Satellites XXIII 2019 - Strasbourg, France
    Duration: 9 Sept 201912 Sept 2019

    Publication series

    SeriesProceedings of SPIE


    ConferenceSensors, Systems, and Next-Generation Satellites XXIII 2019


    • acousto-optic tuneable filters
    • ALTIUS
    • AOTF
    • european space agency earth observation
    • fabry perot interferometer
    • limb
    • PROBA
    • tuneable filters
    • OtaNano


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