The Satellite ‘Selfie’: Start of a Trend?
Using a camera to check satellite is easier, cost-effective
August 8, 2014
There have been multiple cases over the past few years where
satellites had problems deploying their antennas or solar arrays after launch.
Would a camera on the satellite make it easier to see what was happening and perhaps
craft a better solution? That question came to mind when I saw a new release
from Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd that included a “selfie” from
TechDemoSat-1 showing spacecraft's Antenna Point Mechanism (the horn is clearly
visible) with Earth in the background. Compared to the cost to build and launch
a satellite into space, the cost of a camera or two to check out a satellite
once in space doesn't seem that high.
The inspection camera is mounted on the exterior of the
spacecraft and will be used to monitor the behavior of key mechanical payloads.
It combines a color CMOS camera with a high performance machine vision lens. It
was designed with a depth of field able to deliver an in-focus image of the
Antenna Pointing Mechanism as well as the Earth in the background.
SSTL said its optics experts used commercial-off-the-shelf
technologies and combined a color CMOS camera with a high performance machine
vision lens. Both the camera and lens were stripped down and ruggedized to
survive the vibration and shock loads experienced during launch.
TechDemoSat-1 is based on the SSTL-150 platform. It was
funding in part by a grant from U.K.'s Technology Strategy Board and South East
England Development Agency. It carries eight separate payloads from UK academia
Given the cost of today's communications satellites, adding
a camera could be helpful in the case of deployment problems and provide great
photos for a press release if everything goes fine. See the picture and learn
more see the news release SSTL
marks completion of TechDemoSat-1 LEOP phase with a
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