Centre Spatial de Li�ge

About CSL in space



This study concerns the PROBA-3 mission, which is dedicated to the demonstration of Formation Flying (FF) technologies for future European scientific and application missions like DARWIN. The success of the envisaged missions depends on understanding and correctly implementing all the aspects of  FF. The STARTIGER program addresses the study of a new generation externally-occulted solar coronagraph operating in flight formation. The instrument is distributed over two platforms separated by about 150m, and forming a giant externally-occulted coronagraph: the imaging part is hosted by one spacecraft and remains in the shadow of the external occulter hosted by the other spacecraft. This basic configuration corresponds to a "rigid" long base instrument, and in this case the formation can be considered as the instrument. This study will focus on the optical design of the coronagraph and the formation flight metrology. CSL is working with LAM as prime contractor.





In October 2012, the Cheops mission was selected as a small mission by ESA as part of the Cosmic Vision program. Cheops objective is to measure size, mass and atmospheric characteristics of known exoplanets around bright stars. The system is based on measurement of transit as the planet hunters COROT and Kepler. Cheops is a project led by the University of Bern (CH), it consists in a 50 kg payload containing a 30 cm diameter telescope with 1.2 m focal length working in the visible.  As for COROT, CSL will be in charge of the design and manufacturing of the straylight reduction external baffle and of the cover mechanism. The satellite will be launched in 2017 on a heliosynchronous orbit at an altitude of 800 km. Potential launcher is Vega. 

3rd CHEOPS Instrument System Meeting



ESIO radiometre

EUV Solar Imager for Operations

Due to the importance and extent of space weather effects on human health and both space-based and ground-based infrastructures, an essential objective of the ESA Space Situation Awareness (SSA) Programme is to develop independent space weather services, based on operational models and measurement networks.  Accordingly, the Space Weather Element (SWE) of the ESA SSA Preparatory Programme has set up activities to analyse and evaluate existing space weather and Near-Earth Objects assets in Europe, to define and design service prototypes, and to design the required instruments. 




EUCLID is a M-Class mission composed of a 1.2m diameter telescope and two instruments to map the 3-D distribution of up to 2 billion galaxies and dark matter associated with them. The visible instrument (VIS) will provide shape measurement of the galaxies and the Near IR Spectrometer Photometer (NISP) will measure the galaxies redshift. 

Under the PRODEX umbrella, the activities performed by the CSL in this specific EUCLID related project are:

  • to measure the deformation of the NISP detector system (NI-DS) when cooled-down to about 95K with an accuracy of 1μm. The NI-DS is a FPA of 16 detectors. 
  • to perform vibration testing of three NISP models.
  • to perform vibration testing of two VIS models and optical metrology on the FPA between vibration tests.



The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (EMTGO), scheduled to launch in January 2016, is the first of two ESA robotic missions to the Red Planet. The mission also will serve as a communication relay for Mars surface missions beginning in 2018. The NOMAD instrument will conduct a spectroscopic survey of Mars’ atmosphere in UV, visible and IR wavelengths covering the 0.2-0.65 and 2.2-4.3 μm spectral ranges. NOMAD is composed of 3 channels: a solar occultation channel (SO) operating in the IR, a second IR channel capable of doing nadir, but also solar occultation and limb observations (LNO), and an UV/VIS channel (UVIS) that can work in all observation modes. CSL is responsible of the instrument AIV as well as some additional development of spacecraft accessories.




ICON nasa

ICON (Ionospheric CONexion Explorer) is a NASA Heliophysics Explorer, selected by April 2013. It will give NASA’s Heliophysics division powerful new capability to determine the conditions in space modified by weather on the planet, and to understand the way space weather events grow to envelop regions of our planet with dense ionospheric plasma. ICON team is led by the prestigious Berkeley Institute. Several scientists of the University of Liège and CSL are associated to this mission (Dr. Jean Claude Gerard, Dr Benoit Hubert, Dr Pierre Rochus). Furthermore, thanks to BELSPO support, CSL is responsible of the optical design, alignment and calibration of the FUV (Far Ultra-Violet) instrument with the benefit of the IMAGE project heritage.



mpbus logo


Le consortium MPBUS  regroupe sous la direction de JMP Ingenioros (Espagne) , NASP - Najera Aerospace (Espagne), Yamar Electronics (Israel) et le Centre Spatial de Liège.  Le but est  de développer un nouveau système transmission de données utilisant les lignes de distribution d’énergie pour les satellites, permettant ainsi une réduction drastique de l’encombrement et de la masse des batteries et harnais. Le rôle de CSL sera de tester le système de communication (délivrable du projet de TRL 4 ou 5) suivant les spécifications lanceur (typiquement ARIANE 5). Les tests seront typiquement électriques et en radiations. Le CSL va développer un équipement qui reproduira les transitoires typiques apparaissant sur un bus d’alimentation de lanceur, ce qui permettra de tester l’équipement de transmission de données développé par NASP et YAMAR. Le 2e rôle du CSL sera d’orienter le choix des composants électroniques pour que le délivrable final puisse arriver en TRL 9, c’est-à-dire un modèle de vol si une phase d’industrialisation devait succéder au projet FP7.




In the framework of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security program (GMES), ESA develops Sentinel-2, a multispectral optical imaging system for Earth Remote Sensing with terrestrial applications providing continuity and enhancement to Landsat and SPOT type missions. For this mission, led by ASTRIUM, CSL designs the on-board calibration diffuser. The diffuser is a sun-light diffuser used for absolute radiometric calibration of all spectral channels. The calibration is typically performed once a month when flying over the North Pole. During calibration phase, a mechanism deploys the diffuser in front of the instrument. The sun diffuser covers the full field of view.






Within the Sentinel 3 components, there is a multi-spectral optical imager for Ocean and Land Colour operational applications (with equivalent ENVISAT MERIS baseline performance), named OLCI (Ocean and Land Colour Imager). The OLCI instrument embarks a Calibration Assembly, made of a positioning mechanism and the appropriate reference diffusers which is the purpose of the current project. The overall OLCI is composed of the structure equipped with the units necessary for all functions and with the thermal hardware. All optical elements are supported on a stable flat panel (optical bench). Other equipments are distributed on the other panels. Five identical cameras point to the Earth, Eastwards and Westwards from the sub-satellite point. The Calibration Mechanism is mounted on the Instrument Earth side. In this project, CSL is responsible for the design, manufacturing, verification, calibration and delivery of the Calibration Assembly that is composed of the Calibration Mechanism and the Calibration Hardware. This work is performed in collaboration with CSEM that acts as a sub-contractor of CSL.





In 1997, Belgium and Argentina signed a cooperation agreement on space, which materialized with Belgium’s participation to the SAOCOM project, in the framework of a specific agreement signed in 2000. The responsibility of the project was attributed to Centre Spatial de Liège (CSL) under Belspo financing. SAOCOM is an Earth observation satellite system developed by CONAE (COmición Nacional de los activitades AErospaciales), the payload of which is a L-band full polarimetric Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). Two satellites are to be launched one year apart, starting end 2014. Together with the Italian Cosmo-Skymed satellites, they will constitute the X+L-band SIASGE system for disaster management. CSL is mainly in charge of the development of a reference Stripmap/TOPSAR processor capable of handling a set of SAOCOM reference beams and imaging modes.




Solar Orbiter exploring the Sun

The EUI (Extreme Ultraviolet Imagers) instrument suite onboard Solar Orbiter (the ESA Cosmic Vision M1 mission), is composed of two high resolution imagers (HRI). In all the units, the image is produced by a mirror-telescope, working in nearly normal incidence. The EUV reflectivity of the optical surfaces is obtained with specific EUV multilayered coatings, providing also the spectral selection of the EUV units. The spectral selection is complemented with very thin filters rejecting the visible and IR radiation. Due to its orbit, EUI / Solar Orbiter will be irradiated to 20 solar constants and an entrance baffle to limit the solar heat input into EUI is needed. Complementary to the instrument integration, CSL also designed and developed those specific filters requested by the instrument to operate properly in the solar neighborhood extreme conditions. 




 tropomi earthcarewith cloud profiles The TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) is a spaceborne nadir viewing spectrometer with bands in the ultraviolet, the visible, the near infrared and the shortwave infrared. TROPOMI is the payload for the ESA/GMES Sentinel 5 Precursor mission, planned for launch in 2014 with 7 years design lifetime. The objective of the mission is to provide high-quality and timely information on the global atmospheric composition for climate and air quality applications. TROPOMI is developed by a Dutch consortium led by Dutch Space. CSL has been selected as the validation test center for the instrument. The test preparation, including numerous OGSE’s to design and integrate, started by July 2013. The final validation campaign is planned by the second semester of 2014 and must be carried out by the end of  February 2015.

Under the lead of Space Applications Systems, CSL is involved in the project for the replacement of an onboard Video Monitoring Unit Fluid Science Lab (FSL) on board of the International Space Station.Within the VMU MK2 team, CSL is responsible to design and to manufacture the housing and the harness, to perform the thermal and the mechanical analysis, to integrate the different models and to qualify them for space environment.


Operating Instruments

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