IACTEC-Space is the project within IACTEC that will drive innovation and development related to the use of small satellite payloads and process of the acquired data. Our initial focus will be on Earth Observation (starting with the ALISIO-I mission that will board the SWIR camera DRAGO), with a view to developing our technological capabilities for application to space observational projects with these type of satellites.
ALISIO-I is the first mission fully developed in IACTEC-Space. It will be one of the pioneer nano-satellites that will observe the Earth in the SWIR range. Its launch is expected in 2021.
This mission has a double objective: to demonstrate the ability to observe the Earth in the SWIR range from a 3U+ nanosatellite and consolidate a multidisciplinary team capable of designing small satellite payloads. This team is now prepared for the development of small satellite payloads following the strictest ECSS standards.
The observation in the SWIR band provides crucial information that is not available in the visible range. The analysis in this region of the spectrum allows, for example, the creation of vegetation indices, the detection of hot spots in fires and the detection and characterization of oil spills. The addition of this observation band to the nano-satellite market will significantly increase the amount of applications available using small platforms.
DRAGO (Demonstrator for Remote Analysis of Ground Observations) will be one of the very first instruments that will explore the use of uncooled InGaAs technology for Earth observation applications aboard nano-satellites. Using this technology, the DRAGO camera will operate in a push-frame mode to observe in two bands (centered at 1.1 and 1.6 µm) that are discriminated by using a 2-strip monolithic filter assembly placed on top of the sensor. The design has been carried out following the SWAP concept, so it can be easily integrated into a 3U nanosatellite (1.3U and <5.4W).
The lens assembly is based on a COTS SWIR lens that has been ruggedized by IACTEC to ensure its good performance in a LEO environment.
The camera also includes high performance hardware and software, developed at IACTEC, for high-speed image acquisition (up to 160 fps). These electronics allow the on-board processing of the images, including features such as super-resolution, compression and encryption. To ensure a 3-year lifetime, sensitive electronics have been shielded, and an FDIR system has been developed to automatically isolate and recover from SEE events.
The DRAGO engineering model is now available, and is currently undergoing a verification campaign at IAC before the final integration of the proto-flight model.
DRAGO has been designed to demand a very low power, so the platform only has to provide a peak power of 6 W and an average power per orbit lower than 0.3W. ALISIO-I will obtain an updated image of the Canary Islands, coasts and the surrounding portion of the Atlantic Ocean every two weeks during at least one year. In order to do this, the required pointing performance for ALISIO-I mission will be ~1º. This value is in line with the standard capabilities of commercial 3U platforms, and it is only required when passing over the ROI (3-4 minutes/day). Thanks to the compression capabilities of DRAGO, the amount of information to download is significantly reduced. The expected information to download is between 1 and 2 MB/day.