Session

Technical Session 6: Science/Mission Payloads

Location

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Abstract

DarkCarb is a pioneering Earth observation (EO) satellite, under development at SSTL, designed to acquire high resolution Mid Wave Infrared (MWIR) imagery and video from low Earth orbit. The mission will set a precedent in IR performance from a small and capable satellite platform while maintaining the SSTL cost effective approach thereby enabling a spacecraft price which makes building constellations, capable of delivering rapid re-visit and wide area coverage, an attractive and worthwhile commercial investment. The DarkCarb satellite features an innovative low mass and volume MWIR imager which, when combined with the implementation of novel image enhancement algorithms, will achieve high quality 3.5m GSD imagery. The instrument is assembled using COTS devices and components fabricated using standard industry processes, optimised for production and rapid delivery of multiple instruments to meet constellation needs. The high spatial resolution DarkCarb MWIR imagery will deliver provides several key and complementary differentiators to visible imagery and therefore has the potential to become a high value data product for the EO market. MWIR imagery provides the capability to differentiate between objects and surfaces of different temperature and emissivity. As the detectable signal is only dependent on the temperature of the scene, DarkCarb also has the ability to extend imaging opportunities into the night. The video capability allows information on highly dynamic features in scenes to be provided and will be of key interest for applications relating to human activity. The DarkCarb mission is therefore a highly innovative development which has the potential to seriously disrupt the status quo of the commercial satellite imagery market by providing affordable high quality and high resolution MWIR data which will address a range of applications. With the DarkCarb Imager currently in production this paper will showcase the development to date with initial results from recent airborne flight trials and further explain the details of the unique payload which has been designed to meet the market need for responsive delivery at the right price.

Available for download on Saturday, August 07, 2021

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Aug 9th, 2:00 PM

DarkCarb: An Innovative Approach to Infrared Imaging

Utah State University, Logan, UT

DarkCarb is a pioneering Earth observation (EO) satellite, under development at SSTL, designed to acquire high resolution Mid Wave Infrared (MWIR) imagery and video from low Earth orbit. The mission will set a precedent in IR performance from a small and capable satellite platform while maintaining the SSTL cost effective approach thereby enabling a spacecraft price which makes building constellations, capable of delivering rapid re-visit and wide area coverage, an attractive and worthwhile commercial investment. The DarkCarb satellite features an innovative low mass and volume MWIR imager which, when combined with the implementation of novel image enhancement algorithms, will achieve high quality 3.5m GSD imagery. The instrument is assembled using COTS devices and components fabricated using standard industry processes, optimised for production and rapid delivery of multiple instruments to meet constellation needs. The high spatial resolution DarkCarb MWIR imagery will deliver provides several key and complementary differentiators to visible imagery and therefore has the potential to become a high value data product for the EO market. MWIR imagery provides the capability to differentiate between objects and surfaces of different temperature and emissivity. As the detectable signal is only dependent on the temperature of the scene, DarkCarb also has the ability to extend imaging opportunities into the night. The video capability allows information on highly dynamic features in scenes to be provided and will be of key interest for applications relating to human activity. The DarkCarb mission is therefore a highly innovative development which has the potential to seriously disrupt the status quo of the commercial satellite imagery market by providing affordable high quality and high resolution MWIR data which will address a range of applications. With the DarkCarb Imager currently in production this paper will showcase the development to date with initial results from recent airborne flight trials and further explain the details of the unique payload which has been designed to meet the market need for responsive delivery at the right price.