Tests and Trials of the first Portuguese satellite begin next week

 The tests of the multispectral chamber of the INFANTE Satellite, the first Portuguese satellite, will begin as early as November at the Aerospace Laboratory of the ISQ Group, in Castelo Branco. With this camera you will be able to capture images of the Earth and the oceans. INFANTE is the first satellite fully designed and built in Portugal for Earth observation, with special focus on maritime applications; investment of around EUR 9 million. It will be in orbit from 2020. "The construction of this microsatellite demonstrates the ability and maturity of the national industry to design, build, integrate, test and operate a demonstrator of a microsatellite in low orbit. ISQ is in charge of quality assurance across the entire project as well as the planning activity and testing of systems technology development", points out Pedro Matias, president of ISQ. This is a demonstrator and precursor project for future constellations, developed by a consortium of which are part of nine Portuguese companies in the area of Space, 150 researchers, research laboratories and universities. "It was very interesting to gather all these skills and realize that there are fantastic companies in Portugal with a very deep know-how in the area of Aeronautics and Aerospace", adds the President of ISQ. The multispectral camera of the INFANTE Satellite is a miniaturized optical instrument that allows you to capture images of the Earth and the oceans, in the visible spectrum, and with very high resolution. The camera is distinguished from other similar instruments by the ability to acquire, process and compress images in real-time on board in order to minimize the volume of data sent to the ground. The processing hardware used for this purpose is identical to that used in previous projects with the European Space Agency (ESA) in the context of the development of technologies applicable to planetary landing missions (Moon, Mars and small bodies). The design of the multispectral chamber is in charge of the Portuguese aerospace company Spin.Works, who was responsible for the design and development of all optical, structural, electronics and software components. In this context, the integration and testing phase of a first version of the instrument (called the engineering model – EM) has already been completed, which includes virtually all final hardware and software – with the exception of the main camera structure. It is estimated that the TRL (Technology Readiness Level) of this instrument is currently at level 6. "The tests to be carried out at ISQ are part of a Verification plan and refinement of the structural models used in the project, with a view to the construction of qualification and flight models using very stable thermal materials (a fundamental requirement to ensure the normal functioning of this instrument in space)," adds Pedro Matias The Verification Plan also includes integration tests, that will confirm the operation of all subsystems after their assembly on the satellite platform. This activity will begin at the end of this year, with the qualification of the INFANTE multispectral chamber for its operation in space (TRL 8) scheduled for the first half of 2020, after an additional battery of tests that will take place at the ISQ facilities. Shaped like a small cobblestone, the Infante will be the first in a future constellation of 12 identical satellites to be built and launched after 2020. It will be the first Portuguese satellite network to monitor the oceans and earth. The consortium of this project integrates nine companies in the space area, such as Tekever, Active Space Technologies, Omnidea, Active Aerogels, GMV, HPS, Spin Works, among others, and ten R&D centers from various universities and research laboratories across the country linked to the space area as is the case of ISQ, CEIIA, FEUP, FCT-UNL, INL, IPN, IPTomar, ISR Lisboa, IT Aveiro and UBI. "By bringing together all these entities, the national industry has shown a great maturity and willingness to move up the value chain, offering very interesting solutions to a market that is in great demand and growth," concludes Pedro Matias. Infante INFANTE applications: Three Earth Observation applications were selected as case studies focused on the Atlantic area: Maritime surveillance: infante will identify ships in the Atlantic and report alerts; Environmental monitoring: Infante will monitor slow-evolving environmental phenomena (such as oil spills or algae proliferation); Extreme event monitoring and monitoring: Infante will detect and monitor rapidly evolving phenomena (e.g. fires, floods, extreme weather events or others).    


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Carla Guedes      | cmguedes@isq.pt          | +351 919 211 647