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Satellite Communications Technology

KSAT to support Norway’s first hyperspectral Smallsat mission

(11 August 2020 - KSAT) KSAT has signed a contract for ground station support of HYPSO-1, a Smallsat mission from the Norwegian university of science and technology (NTNU), aiming to detect toxic algae blooms.

This is the first time KSAT provides ground station services to a Norwegian university mission.

At NTNU Small Satellite Lab, a multi-disciplinary team of master students, PhD-students and professors are currently working on a small satellite with a miniaturized hyperspectral camera for detection of toxic algae blooms along the Norwegian coast. KSAT will as part of this contract, provide commercial ground station services from the Svalbard Ground Station for this mission, called HYPSO-1. KSAT is well known for providing fast and reliable space to ground services. By using the unique ground station at Svalbard, KSAT ensures fast access to the time-critical data.

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Multispectral Sentinel data used to map concentrations of algae. We are not able today to separate between the “nice” and the harmful algae, something we will be able to do with HYPSO-1. (courtesy: ESA/Processed by KSAT)

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KSAT will as part of this contract, provide commercial ground station services from the Svalbard Ground Station to ensure fast access to the time-critical data. (courtesy: KSAT)

"We are very excited to get access to KSATs ground stations both at Svalbard and at other locations", says associate professor Egil Eide at the Department of Electronic Systems.

"HYPSO-1 will be part of a multi-agent surveillance system, operating both drones and surface vessels in near-real-time. It is very important to get data from as many satellite passes. This is an important strategic cooperation between NTNU and space industry, that will benefit students and researchers alike", Eide concludes.

Further the development of spacecraft engineering and related sciences

Kristian Jenssen is the director of KSATLITE, a division at KSAT dedicated to the development and delivery of scalable global ground station services for smallsats. The team are currently handling the major part of the commercial smallsats in orbit today, including some of the large constellations.

"I studied at NTNU myself and got the chance to be involved in a cubesat project. I find it rewarding that we can contribute to further development of space-related sciences in Norway", says Jenssen. He emphasizes that the students through these projects acquire unique hands-on experience, which is very relevant and thus valuable for KSAT as a possible future employer.

"It is important for us that students that want to delve into the discipline of spacecraft engineering and space related sciences, can get the chance to do so at Norway’s largest technical university", says Jenssen.

Providing important information for commercial aquaculture industry

The small satellites in the HYPSO-project will be equipped with miniaturized hyperspectral cameras, that are able to “see” more than traditional optical sensors, covering parts of the infrared spectrum.

In combination with drones and autonomous vehicles both on surface and subsea, the goal is to be able to detect and alert the fish-farms about toxic algae blooms in the area. In 2019 a sudden upwelling of toxic algae killed close to 8 million salmon in Norwegian fish farms, wiping out more than half of the annual sales growth in just over a week. The hope is that with the contribution of this mission, one can avoid this in the future.

As a significant provider of maritime monitoring services KSAT had an active role during the algae bloom last year and together with partners in Tromsø they are currently exploring how to discriminate between different types of algae by combining different sensors and applying advanced algorithms.

"It´s exciting with these new and small hyperspectral sensors. We support the project and believe it can provide a valuable contribution to future systems for algae warning and coastal monitoring to increase the understanding and support commercial aquaculture", says Kristian Jenssen.

About Kongsberg Satellite Services

Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) is the world-leading provider of communication services between spacecraft and launch vehicles and Earth. Supporting 50,000 satellite passes a month, its extensive global network of over 200 antennas at over 23 global locations, (including Pole to Pole coverage from Antarctica to the Arctic), ensures 24/7, responsive access to satellite telemetry, data, and communications.

Furthermore, KSAT provides a variety of products derived from both Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and high-resolution optical satellite data. The key focus is maritime situational awareness, which includes Near Real-Time (NRT) vessel detection, oil spill monitoring, ice monitoring and other related services.

About NTNU

Small satellites is one of the strategic research areas at the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering (IE) at NTNU. Through a cooperation between the Department of Electronic Systems (IES) and the Department for Engineering Cybernetics (ITK) as well as other actors at NTNU, the NTNU SmallSat Lab was established to carry out research, education, and development within the small satellite area.

HYPSO-1 is a 6-unit (10x20x30 cm) CubeSat, where the satellite bus is delivered by NanoAvionics in Lithuania. NTNU develops the payload and the operational use of the payload. The payload is a hyper-spectral camera, consisting of optics and a payload processor that assembles and processes the images from the camera before they are being downlinked through the KSAT network.

NTNU SmallSat lab also works together with the student organization Orbit NTNU, as student driven CubeSat project, which KSAT also has a cooperation with.