In this new space age, we find various types of discoveries and advances, like CubeSat cameras, opening up all kinds of opportunities for companies and governments of all sectors and sizes.
As mentioned above, CubeSats are some of the most popular nanosatellites available for earth observation and space exploration today. These satellites have a wide range of uses ranging from climate monitoring and communication to disaster response. But what CubeSat cameras are, exactly? What can they offer and what is so special about them? Not to worry – this article will talk about everything there is to know about this piece of space technology!
What Is A CubeSat?
Before we get into the gist of this article, it is essential first to understand what the CubeSat camera is. These are tiny satellites that do not measure more than 10 cm on all sides (1U). Typically, they do not weigh more than 1.33 kgs (2.93 pounds).
In recent times, it has been found that CubeSats could be combined to form larger spacecraft, without compromising on the constraints and requirements. Several of such units can also be connected to create more prominent CubeSat constellations.
The concept of CubeSat satellites has become very popular for various types of purposes for companies, governments, space agencies, and researchers. It is an affordable and fast way for stakeholders to develop space technology and innovation faster.
The CubeSat development has been going on for quite some time. It all started in 1999 when Jordi Puig-Suari of California Polytechnic State University and Bob Twiggs of Standford, two professors, created the first nanosatellite. These individuals defined the standard sizes of CubeSat satellites today. They also came up with the P-POD deployer (Poly-Picosatellite Orbital Deployer), which hooks up with a larger space vehicle and gets the CubeSat into space.
About CubeSat Camera Systems
As mentioned previously, CubeSats have become very popular in space industry. Apart from being cheaper, they are also much easier to launch. One of the essential parts of satellite technology is the CubeSat camera. They are available in a wide range of spectral imaging capabilities and resolutions. The cameras are also available in different sizes and designs to meet various functions of CubeSat missions.
The overall satellite design needs to be such that they can easily fit precise cameras on-board. While the capture bandwidth is extensive, the images often have low resolution. On the contrary to what most people think, the low resolution of the imagery allows for more convenient gradient sensing, revisit of the image, and storage.
In most cases, the CubeSats are propelled by solar sails. The radiation from the stars and sun power these sails and help the satellite propel. You can think of it as a sailing ship; however, the sun’s radiation pushes the satellite into space instead of the winds.
What Are The Advantages Of CubeSats?
There are several benefits of the CubeSat camera. The first advantage is that they can be built very quickly. It does not take more than two years to design in most cases. Additionally, building the satellite and the cameras costs just a fraction of larger satellites.
Additionally, the technology is also straightforward. Satellites are designed for short missions and can either be replaced with a replica or simply called back to earth; the time taken is approximately two months for building the models. As for falling back on earth, there is no space debris because the components get burned up upon re-entry.
How Do You Choose The Right CubeSat Camera?
Like other satellite camera types, CubeSat cameras are designed to capture images in the form of reflected signals from a space object and store it as hyperspectral, multichromatic, or panchromatic images. All these images can range from visible light to electromagnetic radiation.
For whatever you are choosing the CubeSat, like technological demonstration or earth observation imaging, you need to remember some factors:
1. The Size Of The CubeSat
As mentioned above, the CubeSat satellites are available in various sizes. Hence, the camera needs to match the size of the satellite. If the camera is too small, it will not be sufficient for the mission. On the other hand, launching the satellite could become problematic if the camera size is too large.
2. Technical Consideration
The right CubeSat camera should meet all your imaging and orbiting needs. You need to factor in certain technical aspects, like the in-built speed data storage and the operating temperature range. By default, the cameras can operate between temperatures -20°C and +70°C—they also have data storage speeds between 128 and 1024 GB.
The cameras need to be designed for various purposes for space exploration—to ensure maximum convenience. They also need to be integrated into all multiple types of satellites.
Additionally, there are also some types of resolution that you need to know if you want to learn how to use the CubeSat camera. They include:
- Spatial Resolution: Which measures the smallest object that the optical payload can resolve.
- Spectral Resolution: This is the width and number of spectral bands the sensor can collect from the reflected radiation.
- Radiometric Resolution: It will indicate the information available in a pixel and is expressed in bits.
- Swath: This is the area that the optical payload can image.
- SWaP Factor: This is the power, weight, and size of the satellite or its sub-system.
We can say the CubeSat development has gone a long way. And nowadays, these camera systems and satellites are considered the future of the space age because of the varied advantages like low cost, quick built, etc. Moreover, these satellites are helping change the world by aiding in earth and space observation. Thanks to the simplistic design, these pieces of space technology can pack anything in the payload, ranging from computers to cameras.