ESA title

Development of Critical Elements of the SAT4EO programme

Space Segment
  • Platform
  • Payload
Data Segment
  • Data Processing & Visualisation
  • Data Analytics, Insights & Applications
  • Product Development
SAT4EOCE provides innovative solutions for Very High Resolution (VHR) Earth Observation (EO): the AOCS COTS subsystem product, comprised of software and hardware elements, engineered and configured to meet VHR AOCS customer needs, and the Image Product Chain (IPC), encompassing the products of the VHR imager, the Instrument Processor and the Exploitation Platform, for high-quality VHR satellite imagery and geo-analytics.
Objectives of the Product

SAT4EOCE provides cost effective and high performance solutions for VHR (~50 cm) imaging in minisatellites, while meeting customer needs in terms of low budget, low risk and turn-key products. It provides key technologies for the DEIMOS SAT4EO VHR satellite programme, namely the Image Product Chain (IPC) and the AOCS subsystem.

The Image Product Chain (IPC), composed of the products of the EO imager, the Instrument Processor, and the cloud based Exploitation Platform, enables a Very High-Resolution (VHR) imaging system to be incorporated on-board a minisatellite, reducing significantly the cost of the mission, enabling constellations, and providing for reliable and timely VHR (~50 cm) data for customers worldwide.

The AOCS COTS subsystem product is an engineered HW and SW solution for minisatellites, with performances enabling ~50 cm ground resolution imaging, via very high pointing stability and accuracy, and high duty cycle imaging, via agility and autonomy, all designed and developed as a qualified low mass and low cost AOCS solution, in line with market needs.

Customers and their Needs

The targeted Customers are:

  • Privately owned companies, deploying small satellite missions, to provide commercial services from EO applications. These may be new start-up operators, entering the EO market upstream, or existing operators that are moving to VHR imaging that is now becoming more demanded from EO product users downstream. The user needs for such IPC and AOCS products are those of high performance, and fully integrated and qualified solutions, that meet requirements in terms of cost, mass, risk and reliability.
  • Institutions or governments of countries with small satellites initiatives aiming at having their own EO system. Especially those in countries with minor space capabilities or limited capabilities for Earth observation and remote sensing. In such cases, the IPC and AOCS can be employed as individual products in their satellites, or as part of the overall sat4EO satellite sale.

SAT4EOCE includes such customers in the activities and product developments cycle, through both the inclusion of external small satellites developers, and through the exploitation of DEIMOS’ and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd established commercial networks. Moreover, DEIMOS and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd serve themselves as customers for these products, through their own satellite programmes, such as DEIMOS’ SAT4EO programme.

Targeted customer/users countries

The customers for the SAT4EO VHR satellite and SAT4EOCE products are worldwide.

Product description

The Image Product Chain (IPC) is composed of three products: the EO imager, the Instrument Processor and the cloud based Exploitation Platform. The main innovation of the IPC is that it is a fully integrated end-to-end system, providing access to VHR imagery and cloud based analytic solutions. It enables ~50 cm ground resolution VNIR imaging in the minisatellite class, with masses up to 300kg.

The VHR VNIR (Visible and Near-Infrared) imager is electro-optical imaging system providing a compact EO Imager compatible in terms of mass, volume and power consumption with the smallsat class.

Figure 1: SSTL VHR Imager Layout
Figure 2: VHR Imager on SSTL-300 platform

The Instrument Processor, also available in a flight segment configuration, provides a customizable processing chain, qualified for the new EO imager and allows for an agile dissemination of the imagery products to the user.

The cloudbased Exploitation Platform provides a cloud-based imagery database and image analysis capabilities to the end user to optimally exploit all the data and information coming from sat4EO and other elements of the existing EO ecosystem.

Figure 3: SAT4EO Ecploitation Platform Architecture

The AOCS Product is an innovative AOCS COTS subsystem solution for the smallsat class.with performances enabling ~50 cm ground resolution imaging, very high pointing stability, accuracy, agility, autonomy and high duty cycle imaging.

Added Value

The IPC solution provides ~50 cm ground resolution VHR imaging in the minisatellite class of satellites,. The new payload being developed by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd brings on advanced manufacturing techniques and a new approach required to address the price and schedule targets for SAT4EO missions.  The payload boosts a state of the art multi band on chip TDI sensor provided by Teledyne ev2. Thus it enables (~50 cm) optical VHR imaging to new customers, new satellite mass ranges, and for large constellations. Moreover, while there are a number of commercial products offering solutions for EO imagers or exploitation platforms, the offering of an end-to-end Image Product Chain (IPC) for VHR EO products provides a complete product solution.

The AOCS product is an AOCS solution for VHR (~50 cm) satellites and compatible in terms of mass, volume and power consumption with the smallsat class. It is offered and marketed commercially as a COTS product, which is an innovative commercial approach towards customers, being especially suited to those in the new space market or with limited subsystem experience for high performing AOCS solutions. In addition, it is available in multiple COTS configurations and versions, to support different customer needs.  

Current status

The activity commenced in January of 2020. The project is currently in a design and commercial consolidation phase. This importantly includes the incorporation of the needs and perspectives of the VHR EO Customers and End Users.

The activity will pass a requirements review milestone in Q2, after which the design and development activities commence in full. The new design, processes and techniques required to address the changing VHR EO market demands will see the first payload of the IPC ready for test early 2021, and the AOCS qualified in late 2021.

Prime Contractor Company
Deimos Engineering and Systems
Spain Flag Spain
Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd
United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom
United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom
Contractor Project Manager
Murray Kerr
Rda. Poniente, 19, 28760, Tres Cantos (Madrid)

+34 918063450

ESA Technical Officer
Massimiliano Pastena and Nicola Melega

Current activities