Thales Alenia Space to Develop Communications System for Mars Ice Mapper Mission

Thales Alenia Space to Develop Communications System for Mars Ice Mapper Mission

Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), has signed a contract with the Italian space agency (ASI) to develop the communications subsystem for the innovative International Mars Ice Mapper (I-MIM) mission. This Phase B1 contract, worth a total amount of about €22 million, follows on from the previous Phase A award to Thales Alenia Space in 2021, successfully completed in 2022.

I-MIM is a mission in partnership with the Italian Space Agency (ASI), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and NASA to develop a Mars orbiter, with the goal of identifying and measuring the extent and volume of water ice in the mid- and low-latitude regions of Mars, where it is possible to plan the first potential human surface missions to Mars.

Thales Alenia Space will be responsible for the mission’s multi-user communications system and will also develop the innovative Large Deployable Reflector (LDR) antenna enabling the orbiter to establish high-data-rate communications with ground stations in both Ka-band and X-band. The same antenna will serve the SAR instrument operating in L-band. Thales Alenia Space will build a six-meter-aperture demonstration model of the LDR at the end of the two-year phase. A study of a complementary payload, based on a new VHF sounding radar to measure the depth of the ice profile to support and complement the SAR data, is also foreseen.

“ASI’s decision to entrust us with the development of this innovative communications system confirms our company's long and recognized experience in the production of satellites and radar technologies for communications and Earth observation,” said Massimo Comparini, Deputy CEO and Senior Executive Vice President, Observation, Exploration, and Navigation at Thales Alenia Space. “With this large antenna, Thales Alenia Space is developing enabling technologies for future challenges in Earth observation, planetary observation, and communications systems, as well as for institutional and commercial systems. In addition, our participation in the International Mars Ice Mapper mission will pave the way for us to play a primary role in Earth-Mars communications, a key step in preparing for future human missions.”

Thales Alenia Space has long-standing expertise in the design, assembly, testing, and integration of large antennas for deep-space exploration missions such as Cassini-Huygens, which explored Saturn and its moon Titan, and BepiColombo, currently on its way to Mercury.

Click here to learn about Thales Alenia Space's Space Solutions.

Publisher: SatNow

GNSS Constellations - A list of all GNSS satellites by constellations


Satellite NameOrbit Date
BeiDou-3 G4Geostationary Orbit (GEO)17 May, 2023
BeiDou-3 G2Geostationary Orbit (GEO)09 Mar, 2020
Compass-IGSO7Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)09 Feb, 2020
BeiDou-3 M19Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M20Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M21Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M22Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 I3Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M23Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019
BeiDou-3 M24Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019


Satellite NameOrbit Date
GSAT0223MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0224MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0219MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0220MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0221MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0222MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0215MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0216MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0217MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0218MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Kosmos 2569--07 Aug, 2023
Kosmos 2564--28 Nov, 2022
Kosmos 2559--10 Oct, 2022
Kosmos 2557--07 Jul, 2022
Kosmos 2547--25 Oct, 2020
Kosmos 2545--16 Mar, 2020
Kosmos 2544--11 Dec, 2019
Kosmos 2534--27 May, 2019
Kosmos 2529--03 Nov, 2018
Kosmos 2527--16 Jun, 2018


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Navstar 82Medium Earth Orbit19 Jan, 2023
Navstar 81Medium Earth Orbit17 Jun, 2021
Navstar 78Medium Earth Orbit22 Aug, 2019
Navstar 77Medium Earth Orbit23 Dec, 2018
Navstar 76Medium Earth Orbit05 Feb, 2016
Navstar 75Medium Earth Orbit31 Oct, 2015
Navstar 74Medium Earth Orbit15 Jul, 2015
Navstar 73Medium Earth Orbit25 Mar, 2015
Navstar 72Medium Earth Orbit29 Oct, 2014
Navstar 71Medium Earth Orbit02 Aug, 2014


Satellite NameOrbit Date
NVS-01Geostationary Orbit (GEO)29 May, 2023
IRNSS-1IInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)12 Apr, 2018
IRNSS-1HSub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO)31 Aug, 2017
IRNSS-1GGeostationary Orbit (GEO)28 Apr, 2016
IRNSS-1FGeostationary Orbit (GEO)10 Mar, 2016
IRNSS-1EGeosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)20 Jan, 2016
IRNSS-1DInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)28 Mar, 2015
IRNSS-1CGeostationary Orbit (GEO)16 Oct, 2014
IRNSS-1BInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Apr, 2014
IRNSS-1AInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)01 Jul, 2013