With funding from the UK Space Agency, Neptec UK has designed and built an IR Camera in a modular fashion which allows it to perform multiple space operations. This camera is able to provide accurate situational awareness information (range and bearing) for activities such as satellite servicing and orbital debris removal. The same camera with alternate optics will also be able to provide earth observation data that will be useful for identifying thermal areas of interest such as forest fires, volcanoes and shipping traffic. Our camera is designed to be low cost with a very small mass (less than 0.5 kg), volume (40x40x60 mm³) and power (less than 1 W).
Neptec UK is currently teamed with Oxford University Vision Lab to develop the capability to provide full Six Degrees of Freedom (6DOF) capability during rendezvous and docking. This sensor can be utilized as either a prime or redundant sensor (with dissimilar technology) for missions that require precise rendezvous and docking operations.
IR CAMERA FOR EARTH OBSERVATION
Neptec UK’s IR Camera is also able to function as an Earth Observation sensor. This functionality will be tested in a planned in-orbit demonstration.
The camera is designed to be low cost with a very small mass (less than 0.5 kg), volume (40x40x60 mm³) and power (less than 1 W) which makes the sensor ideal for use in nanosat constellations that will provide end use customers with valuable information.
The primary interested users of this product are scientific institutions, safety and legal institutions and private entities related to asset tracking, security, and insurance.
The baseline imager is developed as a standard 1U payload for a 3U CubeSat to be launched in approximately 400 km LEO. This sensor fills a niche that larger, higher altitude sensors cannot meet by:
- Decreasing ground spot distance (increase resolution)
- Reducing revisit time (when scaled into CubeSat constellation)
- Increasing data reliability (Existing target detection data validation)
LiDAR FOR EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL IMAGING APPLICATIONS (LEIA)
LEIA (LiDAR for Extra-terrestrial Imaging Applications) will be Neptec UK’s first LiDAR qualified for operation in high Earth orbit. LEIA will feature low mass (5-6 kg) and volume (10 L) and a range from 1 metre up to 1500 metres. It is a critical component of ESA’s autonomous landing navigation system called PILOT and will be integrated to the Luna Resource-1 Lander for the Luna 27 mission expected in 2021. LEIA will map the surface of the south polar region of the Moon during the lander’s descent in order to locate a suitable landing area for the vehicle.
LEIA – AUTOMATED RENDEZVOUS & DOCKING SENSOR
Neptec UK’s LEIA sensor is a LiDAR that can be used for rendezvous and docking operations in high Earth orbit. Designed to withstand the harsh environments of deep space, LEIA produces a point cloud that can be used to calculate pose for the final approach to a target. With a range of 1500 metres, the sensor also features a low mass of 8-10 kg.
The Development Model of the AR&D version of LEIA is now available and can be delivered within 8 months of ordering. A fully qualified FM model (complete with flight documentation) can be delivered in 18 months.
Neptec UK has designed and developed a rover, that is suitable to be used as a test bed for autonomous navigation testing.
The primary features of the AVATAR rover are:
- Compact and light. Able to fit into the boot of a mid-sized car,
- Range of 4.5 km,
- Able to carry a payload of 100 kg,
- Designed and built with low cost, off the shelf parts.
Neptec UK’s AVATAR Rover includes a package of Neptec designed sensors to assist in autonomous navigation.
FINE LATERAL & LONGITUDINAL SENSOR (FLLS)
The Fine Lateral and Longitudinal Sensor (FLLS) is a laser-based instrument designed to measure the lateral and longitudinal displacements between two cooperating spacecraft to sub-millimetre accuracy. This sensor is a critical component of the precise formation flying technologies ESA intends to demonstrate in-orbit with its PROBA-3 spacecraft. PROBA-3 is comprised of two spacecraft, the Occultor Spacecraft (OSC), and the Coronagraph Spacecraft (CSC). The precise formation flying of these spacecraft enabled by the FLLS, provides ESA an opportunity for scientific study of the Sun’s corona using a coronagraph instrument.