OpenCosmos Launches Satellite to Monitor Volcanoes and Wildfires

  • Successful Launch: UK startup OpenCosmos launches its fourth satellite, ALISIO-1, to monitor volcanic activity and wildfires in the Canary Islands.
  • Advanced Technology: ALISIO-1 is part of the ESA PIONEER Programme, equipped with DRAGO-2, a compact SWIR camera for precise Earth observations.
  • Multi-Purpose Payload: DRAGO-2’s capabilities extend to volcano and wildlife monitoring, oil spill detection, and desertification control.
  • Optical Communications: ALISIO-1 features an optical communications terminal for space-Earth communication, using laser beams for enhanced data transfer and increased security.
  • Digitalized Mission Lifecycle: Open Cosmos incorporates digitalization in mission design, test recording, and operations, enabling faster, more affordable, and reliable space missions.
  • Collaborative Innovation: Open Cosmos collaborates with ESA, combining NewSpace innovation with legacy space expertise to address significant challenges in Earth monitoring and communications.
OpenCosmos Launches Satellite to Monitor Volcanoes and Wildfires (Image: SkyBrokers)
OpenCosmos Launches Satellite to Monitor Volcanoes and Wildfires (Image: SkyBrokers)

OpenCosmos, a UK startup dedicated to leveraging satellite technology for environmental purposes, has triumphantly launched its fourth satellite this year. The focus of this particular satellite is to closely monitor volcanic activity and wildfires in the Canary Islands.

OpenCosmos Launches ALISIO-1: Advancing Earth Monitoring with Satellites

The satellite, named ALISIO-1 (Advanced Land-Imaging Satellite for Infrared Observations), successfully took off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. It hitched a ride aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, and after reaching its final orbit, it has already established its first contact with the ground.

Being part of the ESA PIONEER Programme, ALISIO-1 is a compact 6U satellite designed for the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands. Its mission is ambitious: to revolutionize Earth monitoring capabilities and enhance optical communications from space.

The star payload on this satellite is DRAGO-2, a compact uncooled camera operating in the Short-Wave Infrared (SWIR) range. This range provides a perspective that is invisible to the human eye, enabling precise observations of the monitored area. The data collected will be invaluable for various applications, including monitoring volcanoes and wildlife, detecting oil spills, and controlling desertification. The successful launch marks a significant step forward in the ongoing efforts to utilize satellite technology for environmental conservation and disaster management.

Adding to its capabilities, ALISIO-1 is equipped with an optical communications terminal for space-Earth communications. This cutting-edge technology utilizes laser beams to transmit data across the vacuum of space, presenting two notable advantages over traditional radio-frequency methods: enhanced data transfer rates and increased security.

Florian Deconinck, the Vice President for Growth at OpenCosmos, emphasized the transformative impact of digitalizing various aspects of the mission lifecycle, ranging from design to test recording and operations. According to Deconinck, this digitalization is a crucial factor in enhancing the company’s ability to execute space missions with greater speed, affordability, and reliability.

ALISIO-1. Image Credit: OpenCosmos
ALISIO-1. Image Credit: OpenCosmos

OpenCosmos-ESA Collaboration Addresses Challenges in Earth Monitoring

The collaboration between OpenCosmos and the European Space Agency (ESA) showcases the synergy between NewSpace and legacy space, addressing significant challenges. Deconinck expressed that the combination of OpenCosmos’ innovation and ESA’s expertise exemplifies how these two realms can collaborate effectively.

Noteworthy companions in space for ALISIO-1 include Platero, focused on monitoring the environmental impact of farming in Andalusia, and MANTIS, dedicated to producing high-resolution images of logistics, energy infrastructure, and natural resources.

Simultaneously, OpenCosmos is actively working on a pathfinder satellite, a crucial step in positioning the UK as part of the Atlantic Constellation project. The startup demonstrated its growing strength in the space sector by raising an additional €50 million during its latest funding round in September. This financial boost positions OpenCosmos to further advance its mission of leveraging satellite technology for positive environmental impact and contributing to collaborative initiatives on a global scale.

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Source(s): TS2

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