Satellite Orbits and Mission Analysis
Our section focuses on extremely precise satellite orbit solutions, which are a prerequisite for many space missions. The work involves data processing and analysis of large amounts of tracking data and detailed modelling of minute forces and observation parameters. Applications include monitoring surface changes (e.g. crust, ice and sea level), gravity field and (upper) atmosphere of the Earth and other planets and moons in the solar system. With our expertise in this field we are a preferred partner in many institutional (e.g. ESA, EU, NOAA) and industrial projects and operational satellite missions.
Recent highlights are the first ESA Earth Explorers GOCE (see picture above) and CryoSat-2, launched in March 2009 and April 2010 respectively. The department has long-term contracts to support the data analysis of these missions as well as for the ongoing Swarm mission. Other ground breaking research is focused on using space techniques to investigate natural hazards caused by earthquakes, tsunamis, sea level changes and melting of the icecaps.