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IACTEC-Space is the project within IACTEC that drives innovation and development related to the use of small satellite payloads and process of the acquired data.

In early 2021, the team successfully launched DRAGO: a compact camera conceived to map the Earth in two observing bands in the short-wave infrared (SWIR) range. After several months of operation, DRAGO has proven its worth in many of the applications for which it was designed, such as volcano eruption control or wild-fire monitoring.

DRAGO (Demonstrator for Remote Analysis of Ground Observations)

The next milestone of the project will be ALISIO I: the first Canarian satellite, featuring an improved version of DRAGO. The team is also working on two upcoming projects with an even higher level of complexity: IACSAT-1, the IAC's first astronomical space observatory, and VINIS, an Earth-observation camera with sub-10 meter resolution and simultaneous observation capability in the visible and SWIR bands.

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DRAGO imagery

Wild-fire monitoring

Wild-fire monitoring
Fires in July 2021 in British Columbia (Canada). Top: Sentinel-2 visible composition. Bottom: image obtained by combining the two DRAGO observation bands in SWIR, where burned regions can be clearly outlined, with no smoke traces in the image.

Volcano eruption control

Volcano eruption control
Volcano eruption in La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain) on September 2021. Top: Picture taken with a conventional visible camera. Bottom: SWIR image taken with DRAGO at the same time superposed on the visible image, so that we can see very clearly its capacity to penetrate clouds of particles such as those emitted by a volcano.

Wide-field mapping

Canary Islands
False-color representation of the images taken by DRAGO while pointing to the Canary Islands (Spain) on August 2021. Each image taken by DRAGO is 200 km wide, so this 500 km wide composition corresponds to three passes on three distinct days.

Desertification monitoring

Dubai and Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), as seen by DRAGO on September 2021 through its SWIR-1 channel (1100 nm). Notable features like the Palm Islands are easily recognizable, as well as roads, ports or solar farms, among others.

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Design and development of satellite payloads
Design and development of satellite payloads

Taking advantage of the accumulated experience of optomechanical and optoelectronic instrumentation design in extreme environments and in space, the IAC through IACTec designs and constructs payloads for observing the earth from satellites in low orbits.

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    The eruption on La Palma has provided a unique scenario for testing the DRAGO instrument, the infrared camera of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) which has been observing the Canary Islands from space since January. One of the objectives for which DRAGO was designed is monitoring natural disasters, especially those which could occur in the Canaries, such as forest fires, petroleum spills, or volcanic eruptions. The role of DRAGO is to provide infrared images from space to help the management and control of these disasters. In the case of the eruption which began on September

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