March 8, 2024 – Thales Alenia Space 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- 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. Read more