The Cryosat Ground Segment will be organised around a single ESA ground station, located in Kiruna-Salmijarvi, in Northern Sweden. This is where contact will be established with the satellite, for about 10 minutes at a time, 11 times a day, during which commands will be sent to the satellite and data downloaded.
Mission planning, however, will be performed in ESA-ESRIN for all matters relating to the payload (mainly instrument activity planning) and in ESA-ESOC for everything concerning the platform (mainly orbit maintenance through manoeuvres). The detailed plan will be uploaded weekly to the satellite from Kiruna-Salmijarvi.
It is worth noting that the activity of the Cryosat instruments will be very repetitive, and will be based on ground topology (ice boundaries evolving through the year) and a few specific user demands, recorded before launch. These will not be subject to regular changes after launch.
The large amount of data received from the payload, and in particular from the altimeter, will be processed at Kiruna-Salmijarvi. Data products at Level-1b (radar echoes geolocated and corrected for instrument features) and Level-2 (ground elevation and ice freeboard, corrected for atmospheric and geophysical effects) will be systematically produced by ESA, based on the repetitive data acquisition activity planned above. There will be no ‘on-demand’ data processing in the routine data production; however, provision has been made for troubleshooting needs.
All external auxiliary data needed for data processing, in particular the Precise Orbit data, will be received from the SSALTO centre operated by CNES in Toulouse, with one exception – dynamic sea ice concentration will be received from UCL in London.
Data will be routinely distributed to users using physical media (CDs, DVDs). Use of high-speed networks will also be used as far as possible, subject to network performance.
An important aspect of the Cryosat Ground Segment is that it has been designed for low manpower operations. Furthermore, operations and troubleshooting will be performed remotely for all systems located in Kiruna-Salmijarvi.