Thales Alenia Space has received two contracts to deliver transponders and travelling wave tube amplifiers (TWTA) in support of two Nasa missions.

The contracts were awarded by Nasa Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) for the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) and Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST) missions.

PACE is a strategic continuity mission that is designed to address the challenge of climate and environmental change.

The PACE satellite is planned to be launched in 2022-2023 into a Sun-synchronous polar orbit with a focus on collecting radiometric and polarimetric measurements of the ocean and atmosphere.

“This contract confirms Thales Alenia Space’s worldwide leading position as a key supplier of satellite communication equipment.”

These measurements will be used to determine ocean ecological, ocean biogeochemical, cloud and aerosol particle data.

Under the terms of the contract, the company’s Spanish unit will design, analyse, manufacture, test and deliver the S-band Transponders. These transponders are used to transmit spacecrafts’ housekeeping telemetries to the ground stations and receive ground commands.

The scope of the second contract includes the provision of the Ka-band TWTA, which are responsible for amplifying the Ka-band communications signals used to downlink the science data.

Work under this contract will be delivered by Thales Alenia Space in Belgium.

Thales Alenia Space Spain CEO Eduardo Bellido said: “We are thrilled to collaborate with Nasa in two outstanding missions such as PACE and WFIRST, which will contribute to answer questions related to the Earth’s changing climate and to unveil some of the greatest mysteries of the universe.

“This contract confirms Thales Alenia Space’s worldwide leading position as a key supplier of satellite communication equipment, and adds to our contribution to previous Nasa programmes like IBEX, OCO, Cygnus, JUNO, ICON or JWST.”

The WFIRST mission is regarded as the ‘top-priority large-scale project’ in the ‘New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics’.

The WFIRST observatory will focus on areas of dark energy research, exoplanets detection and infrared astrophysics.

One of the key questions to be answered by the observatory is whether cosmic acceleration is caused by a new energy component or by the breakdown of General Relativity on cosmological scales.

The five-year mission also seeks to complete a census of around 2,600 exoplanets in the inner Milky Way to study potential life in the universe.

WFIRST is expected to be launched in 2025 into an orbit around the L2 Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth system.