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2010/1 Module Catalogue
 Module Code: EEE3023 Module Title: SPACE MISSIONS
Module Provider: Electronic Engineering Short Name: EE3.SPM
Level: HE3 Module Co-ordinator: UNDERWOOD CI Dr (Elec Eng)
Number of credits: 15 Number of ECTS credits: 7.5
Module Availability

Spring Semester

Assessment Pattern

Unit(s) of Assessment
Weighting Towards Module Mark( %)
2-hour closed book examination paper; 3 sections – answer one question from each section.
PC-Based Assignment on Earth Observation Image Interpretation – 2000-3000 word report.
Part-time Students: As Above

Module Overview

Through a series of lectures, exercises and coursework, the module aims to give an introduction to the applications of spacecraft and the design of suitable payloads, covering the principal areas of communications, navigation, remote sensing and space science and astronomy. The module forms a key part of the undergraduate programme in Space Technology and Planetary Exploration (STPE) complementing the spacecraft platform design material in the Satellite Bus Subsystems module (EE3.SBS).


Knowledge of EE2.ism (Introduction to Space Mission Design) and EE3.dyc (Dynamics and Control of spacecraft) is useful background.

Module Aims

To introduce the student to the key applications of robotic spacecraft, and to the operating principles, design and operation of their payloads. It is complementary to the SPACECRAFT BUS SUBSYSTEMS module, which deals with the spacecraft bus itself.

Learning Outcomes
By the end of this module, the student should:
  • Be familiar with a wide range of spacecraft designed to meet communications, navigation, remote sensing and space science mission objectives. 
  • Understand the key aspects of their payload designs.
  • Be able to apply their knowledge to the preliminary design of payloads suitable for meeting similar objectives.
Module Content

COMMUNICATIONS & NAVIGATION (12 hours) – Dr Craig Underwood

[1] Introduction: Development of SatComs, orbits, technology trends; overview of satellite Earth station technology.

[2-5] Communications link: antennas, beam-width, directivity; transmission equation, EIRP, free-space loss; noise, thermal noise, noise figure, noise temperature, antenna noise, system noise, G/T, intermodulation noise; link design: carrier-to-noise ratio, Eb/No, signal quality, modulation schemes. Access schemes – FDMA, TDMA, CDMA, packet-switching.

[6-9] Communications Payload Design: receivers, LNAs; frequency converters, mixers, local oscillators; channelisation, IMUX, OMUX and filters; HPAs (SSPAs, TWTAs); linearity, 3rd order intercept point, intermodulation products; transponder design; antennas.


[10-12] NavSats: position finding, orbits for GNSS, basic principles of GNSS (pseudo ranging), factors affecting accuracy; GPS; Europe ’s Galileo programme; applications.

PASSIVE AND ACTIVE REMOTE SENSING (11 hours) – Dr Craig Underwood

[13-16] Active Remote Sensing: Radar fundamentals, transmission and reception of radar pulses; the radar equation; radar cross-sections; polarization and Doppler effects; radar altimetry - applications; LIDAR, Laser profiling. Scatterometry - applications (sea waves); SLAR; Synthetic Aperture Radar: Introduction; basic principles, system-level payload design, example systems and applications – oceanography and ice-monitoring

[17-20] Passive Remote Sensing: Review of basic optics: telescopes - refractive and reflective; field of view; swath width; resolution; Rayleigh criterion; filters, beamsplitters; detectors (thermal IR and visible) PIN diodes, CCDs, film; performance, noise, D*, NEP; atmospheric transmission and scatter; passive microwave systems.

[21-23] Image Processing: radiometric and geometric correction; basic image enhancement and noise removal; transform methods; image classification; NDVI. Applications: Atmosphere, weather and climate studies; oceanography, SST, ocean colour; land applications: geology, agriculture.

SPACE SCIENCE AND ASTRONOMY (7 hours) – Dr Craig Underwood

[24-26] High Energy Photons: astronomy above the atmosphere; definition of UV, EUV, X-ray and gamma-ray wavelengths. X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy, sources detection, imaging and spectroscopic techniques: Geiger counters; proportional counters – ability to discriminate between photons and cosmic-rays; microchannel plates, imaging proportional counters, X-ray CCDs. Imaging with honeycomb collimators and grazing incidence reflecting telescopes (e.g. Wolter type), Bragg spectrometers.

[27-29] Cosmic Radiation and Plasma Environment: Sun as a source of particles: the solar wind, solar magnetic field, solar rotation rate, solar (Sun-spot) cycle – correlation with solar flares, particle fluxes and energies. Sun-Earth interactions: the shape of the Earth’s magnetosphere – bow-shock and geotail regions: shielding. Plasmasphere and detection instruments. High energy Galactic-Cosmic Rays: mean composition – protons, alphas and
heavy- ions; flux and energy; Coincidence / anti-coincidence techniques to form cosmic-ray “telescopes”; solid state detectors, PIN junctions.

[30] Satellite Astronomy and Space Probes: The Hubble Space Telescope and its results; the principal missions to the planets: Mariner, Voyager, Galileo, etc.; Solar and interplanetary studies.

Methods of Teaching/Learning

Teaching is by lectures and tutorials. Learning takes place through lectures, tutorials, exercises, and independent study. 3 hours lectures/tutorials per week for 10 weeks.


Assignments: Earth Observation Image Interpretation: PC-Based Exercise. Set: Week 5 Due Week 10
Selected Texts/Journals
Recommended background reading
Maral & Bousquet Satellite Communications Systems (4th Ed.), Wiley, 2002
ISBN: 0-471-49654-5   £65 (B)
W.G. Rees Physical Principles of Remote Sensing (2nd Ed.), Cambridge University Press, 2001 ISBN: 0-521-66948-0   £35 (B)
W. Blanchard The Air Pilot’s Guide to Satellite Positioning Systems, Airlife Publishing Ltd, 1995
ISBN: 1-85310-599-6    £16 (B)
Lillesand, Kiefer & Chipman   Remote Sensing and Image Interpretation (5th Ed.), Wiley, 2004 ISBN: 0-471-45152-5            £38.00 (B)
M.M. Abid Spacecraft Sensors, Wiley 2005, ISBN: 0-470-86527-X, £50 (C)
J.K. Davies Astronomy from Space, Wiley, 1997, ISBN: 0-471-96018-7,   £40   (C)
L.K. Harra and K.). Mason (Eds.) Space Science, ICP 2004, ISBN:1-86094-361-6   £31 (C)
Required reading
Gibson & Power Introductory Remote Sensing-Digital Image Processing, Routledge, 2000

ISBN: 0-415-18962-4 £30.00 (A)

Last Updated

12 August 2010