Weather, Earthquakes, Water and Ground Control  
engineering solutions for monitoring the environment
Engineering Excellence Award
14 Nov 2011

  ES&S is proud to announce that it is part of a consortium which recently won an Engineering Excellence Award, awarded by Engineers Australia.

The project - Antarctic Broadband, Definition and Capability Development Project - was funded by the Australian Space Research Program, and designed components of a new high speed communications to one of the remotest parts of the earth.

Antarctica is out of range of the geostationary satellites which provide the traditional telephone, TV and internet coverage to most of the earth. The design work in this project looked at recent developments in satellite and groundstation technology to allow these parts of the earth to communicate with the rest of the world. The project studied the design, launch and groundstations for small satellites in highly eccentric orbits (called Molniya orbits) which fly high over the south pole. The dynamics of these special orbits enable the satellite to appear to be moving very slowly over the poles for considerable periods of time, enabling a much greater period of communications contact than is currently available by other means.

During the project, ES&S, which has been manufacturing groundstations for 20 years, leveraged its existing expertise to design modifications to its existing groundstation to enable it to track these Molniya satellites. ES&S also contributed its considerable experience in installing groundstations in Antarctica, having already installed four groundstations at Australian and Chinese bases. The full report is available from ES&S on request.

The consortium included Aerospace Research Pty Ltd (project lead), the ANU, EM Solutions Pty Ltd, The Tauri Group LLC, and the University of Toronto. The funding was part of the first round of the $40 million Australian Space Research Program, part of the Australian Government's $1.1 billion Super Science Initiative, supporting projects that build on Australia's research strengths.

The importance of Antarctica will increase as the effects of Climate Change are often first seen at the freezing poles of the earth. This new project provided vital information on future communications to this unique part of our world.

The Engineers Australia Awards website article can be found here