Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has today released a set of videos taken from orbit by CARBONITE-2, a technology demonstration satellite launched into a 505km low Earth orbit on 12 January 2018.
The videos have been released to mark the end of spacecraft commissioning, and the start of the imagery demonstration phase of the mission. SSTL is supplying image and video data from CARBONITE-2 to Earth-i, a global satellite operator and Earth Observation insights and analytics company, headquartered in the UK, and to the Royal Air Force to expand further their growing Air and Space capabilities.
Andrew Cawthorne, Director of Earth Observation at SSTL, said “We are extremely pleased with the quality and the quantity of the video we are downloading from CARBONITE-2. We have captured more than 450 videos since launch and are now achieving a consistency in the target, acquisition and processing of videos that has surpassed our expectations. The project team has done a great job during the commissioning of an almost entirely new system design, due to the major upgrades from Carbonite-1 and the project has demonstrated great team ethos, including working with our partners. We now look forward to entering the operational demonstration phase of the mission.”
SSTL is working closely with BARSC member, Earth-i on the design of production versions of the satellite as part of the latter’s development of the Vivid-i Constellation, the first constellation in the world to commercialise full colour video from space.
Richard Blain, CEO of Earth-i, said: “Capturing silky smooth video from 505km up in space from a high definition camera travelling at over 25,000 km per hour, carries with it a unique and wide-ranging set of technical challenges, so the videos from this satellite represent a major breakthrough for our industry and shows what is now possible. In November last year we contracted SSTL to supply 5 Earth observation satellites for our Vivid-i Constellation, due for launch in 2019 and with contracts also in place for a network of ground stations for data downlink, Earth-i will be able to task its spacecraft within minutes of client requests and deliver images or video to customers very soon after they are collected by the satellites.”
Earlier this year, the RAF announced that imagery and video from CARBONITE-2 will be used by the Joint Force Command National Centre for Geospatial Intelligence as an operational concept demonstration of how data from low cost small satellites can augment and enhance intelligence products used for strategic decision making, and to support operations and training by the Armed Forces.
AVM Rocky Rochelle, Chief of Staff (Capability) for the Royal Air Force said “I’m delighted to see how CARBONITE-2 has progressed through commissioning; the images and video captures have been of high quality and will be of great utility to Defence. We are excited to see what this capability demonstrator will teach us about how we can use small satellites, as a single platform and as a future constellation. In this, the RAFs 100th year, the step-up in technology development and application for the RAF is even more significant; this is a key milestone in our space journey.”
CARBONITE-2 is designed to validate technologies for low cost, full-colour video-from-orbit constellations. A constellation of video-from-orbit satellites can provide near real-time video clips of target locations for a range of change detection projects, disaster response planning and infrastructure monitoring. The satellite has a mass of 100kg and is being operated from SSTL’s Spacecraft Operations Centre in Guildford.