Microwave amplifiers for precise weather forecasts

Microwave amplifier module of Fraunhofer IAF made of brass and circuit boards without housing
© Fraunhofer IAF
Microwave amplifier module of Fraunhofer IAF

Satellite-based earth observation in cooperation with ESA

Having reliable meteorological data is a key requirement for accurate weather forecasts. The »MetOp Second Generation« project of the European Space Agency (ESA) addresses this point: Starting from 2021, earth observation satellites will investigate the worldwide climate from 800 km altitude using millimeter waves that penetrate through clouds. Fraunhofer IAF has developed a family of low-noise monolithic microwave amplifiers covering a frequency band from 54 to 243 GHz and has already been able to successfully supply the project partners with the first devices. Low-noise amplifiers are the first components of the instruments’ receiver chains, and they will largely define the noise performance of the complete receivers. Receiver noise performance on the other hand plays a key role for the precision of the weather forecast instruments.

»Thanks to the Fraunhofer IAF microwave circuits, the MetOp satellites will be able to measure temperature, water vapor, and precipitation with higher precision in the future. This will in turn improve the weather forecast capability.« Ville Kangas, European Space Agency, Paris