Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has released videos from orbit taken by CARBONITE-1, a technology demonstration satellite launched to demonstrate rapid build techniques and to test a telescope and video camera, both developed using innovative commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies. CARBONITE-1 was designed and funded by SSTL and the mission has fulfilled expectations, enabling the development of a follow-on technology demonstration mission with enhanced capabilities called CARBONITE-2, due for launch later this year.
Andrew Cawthorne, Director of Earth Observation at SSTL, said “CARBONITE-1 was a highly experimental mission, and we took a number of calculated risks with the design and the schedule with the end-goal of creating a new concept for low cost, rapid-build, Earth observation missions. Although CARBONITE-1 was launched into an orbit of 650km, a little higher than we would have liked, we have in fact been very pleased with the results and we now have a number of interested parties talking to us about future missions.”
The video clips from CARBONITE-1 released today show an aeroplane taxiing down the runway in Kuwait and cars travelling along a highway in Dubai.
CARBONITE-1 is a small earth observation satellite and it was completed under a rapid design, build and test schedule in just 6 months and 12 days. The COTS telescope was adapted for a space environment and integrated into a specially designed framework. The imaging system is designed to provide one metre GSD images and 15 second HD video clips optimised for an orbit of 500km, a little lower than the 650km orbit into which CARBONITE-1 was launched as a secondary payload.
SSTL’s CARBONITE-1 mission was designed to demonstrate proof-of-concept for a low cost video and imaging constellation of ~50kg satellites with high speed X-band downlink, orbiting at 500km. The optical data is particularly suitable for 3-D modelling applications and the video imagery captured by the CARBONITE missions is highly suitable for the evolving applications such as traffic and car park density monitoring, and near real-time analysis of mass population movements.
CARBONITE-1 was launched in 2015 and is designed to be de-orbited at the end of its mission with the deployment of an Icarus-3 de-orbit sail from Cranfield University.
CARBONITE-2, which is also a technology demonstration mission owned and funded by SSTL, is due for launch later this year.