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International consortium adds hyperspectral imaging and communication payloads to NanoAvionics’ rideshare mission named D-2/AtlaCom-1

(23 October 2020 - NanoAvionics) NanoAvionics has revealed the remaining three payloads of its ‘D-2/AtlaCom-1’ rideshare mission hosted on board its M6P 6U nanosatellite bus.

The additional payloads, a camera for hyperspectral remote sensing, a new high-gain X-band antenna and an upgraded X-Band downlink transmitter, are all part of an international collaboration by an international consortium and its partners called “HyperActive”.

The consortium partners for this international collaboration comprise Dragonfly Aerospace (South Africa), Space JLTZ (Mexico) and NanoAvionics US as a supplier to the consortium, as well as mission contributors Polytechnical University of Atlacomulco (Mexico), and CubeCom (South Africa). Expected to launch in mid-2021, the primary aim of the HyperActive program is a flight demonstration of the hyperspectral imaging and communication payloads. The secondary aim is to evaluate market interest for hyperspectral imaging data captured and processed as part of the program.

Within this collaboration, NanoAvionics will act as the supplier to the HyperActive consortium, taking care of all aspects related to the satellite mission including among others payload integration, performance testing, spacecraft registration and logistics, frequency allocation and payload on-orbit operations.

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NanoAvionics engineer preparing 6U satellite for functional tests. (courtesy: NanoAvionics)

“This program shows how important international collaboration can be to the NewSpace sector and how it enables low barrier entry for space data businesses,” said F. Brent Abbott, CEO of NanoAvionics US, “I’m very proud that NanoAvionics is part of this effort as well as stimulating education development and contributing to global social benefits such as ocean and agricultural monitoring. NanoAvionics also values its role as a strategic ally for space development in Mexico.”

A key instrument of the program is the “Mantis imager”, a hyperspectral camera for remote sensing developed by Dragonfly Aerospace, based in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The Mantis imager has an additional unique software capability allowing it to combine any of the available 148 hyperspectral bands into customizable multispectral bands as required for an individual imaging session – essentially a “software defined” camera. To capture these hyperspectral bands, the camera features a 16-meter native ground sample distance (GSD) and a hyperspectral resolution of 32 meters. Dragonfly Aerospace will also provide an X-band data download ground station for the mission. The high-gain X-band antenna and transmitter to send the data back to Earth, are products of the consortium’s partner CubeCom.

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Mantis Imager (courtesy: Dragonfly Aerospace)

“The team at Dragonfly Aerospace is excited to be working with these great partners on this mission,” said Bryan Dean, CEO of Dragonfly Aerospace. “It fits very well with our plans to team up with leading satellite bus and image processing partners to provide compelling solutions to end users. The Mantis imager is the latest addition to our range of cost-effective hyperspectral imagers which also includes the Chameleon imager that we delivered for flight earlier this year.”