A new European Space Agency satellite tracking antenna is to be installed on Santa Maria, in the Azores.
This allows for a new phase in the development of the Azores International Research Centre (AIR Centre).
In a statement, the Portuguese Ministry of Science said: “This satellite tracking antenna and the system developed by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Space Tracking centre (ESTRACK), allows Portugal to bolster the offer of terrestrial services for the ESA from the Azores, and for other international operators in the field of space, namely in terms of future scientific missions, robotic exploration, Earth observation and particularly future satellite launchers.”
An agreement between Portugal and the ESA was signed on Monday this week in Paris by Portugal’s Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, and Jan Woerner, head of the ESA.
Minister Heitor was accompanied on his trip to Paris by the Azores’ Regional Secretary for the Sea, Science and Technology, Fausto Brito e Abreu, and the President of the Foundation for Science and Technology, Paulo Ferrão, as well as a group of researchers and companies connected to the Portuguese – European space mission.
They were due to take part in a series of events and workshops relating to the ESA’s future programmes as well as its upcoming role at the AIR centre.
“This set of events has allowed the mobilisation of government institutions and companies around the world, along with many experts and researchers, in the discussion of the terms of reference for the Azores project”, the Minister added.
The new 15 metre satellite tracking antenna will complement the services provided by the 5.5 metre ESA antenna already on the island, which currently tracks the launchers from French Guyana.
The ministry said that the antenna was to be transferred from Perth, Australia, as part of the Azores International Research Centre, AIR Centre, launched at the beginning of the year to create “an international platform (on the archipelago, dedicated to R&D activities in the areas of climate, climate change, Earth, space and oceans”.