RAL has built up considerable experience in satellite mission planning, satellite operations and science operations since the 1970s, including Ariel V, AMPTE-UKS, IRAS and ISO and currently Cluster II, Double Star, Mars Express, ACE and Giove A. (Please see more information about the history of the group and the satellites in which they were involved.) There are around seventeen people in the group; with current projects falling into two areas, science operations and ground station services.
Science operations are carried out in the Joint Science Operations Centre for ESA's Cluster satellites (JSOC), the Payload Operations Service for ESA's Mars Express satellite (MEXPOS) and the European Payload Operations Service (EPOS) for the joint ESA and Chinese Double Star Programme mission. JSOC, MEXPOS and EPOS operate under contract to the European Space Agency (ESA) (link opens in a new window).
Ground station services are provided for the NASA (link opens in a new window) Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE (link opens in a new window)) mission under contract to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA (link opens in a new window)) and for Giove A (link opens in a new window), ESA's and the European Commission's (link opens in a new window)first Galileo demonstrator (formerly known as the Galileo System Test Bed Version 2A satellite, GSTB-V2A) launched in December 2005, and built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL (link opens in a new window)).
On 25th February 2007 the Mars Express satellite was joined briefly by ESA's Rosetta satellite getting a "gravity-assist" from Mars on its way to Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This provided a unique opportunity for a coordinated observing campaign with the two satellites.