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Study Shows Small Satellite Can Host Imager Instrument for Landsat at Low Cost

In May 2015 we delivered the results of our six-month study on small instrument design for the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). We, along with our team members Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) and Global Science & Technology Inc. (GST), were one of six prime contract companies that competed for and received NASA funding via the GSFC Sustained Land Imaging (SLI) Office to conduct a study involving future Landsat small instrument conceptual designs, decisions, and trades. The primary intent of the study was to design an instrument package that could be hosted by a small satellite platform while still meeting the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) SOW requirements and performance for the Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) and Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS).
SLI instrument on an SSTL-300 bus
We based our proposed SLI instrument design on two existing instruments: the true-color electro-optical imager design available from Surrey and the space-tested thermal imaging instrument developed by SDL of Logan, Utah. We reengineered these standalone instruments and combined them with a custom calibration system to create a single instrument that contains both very short wavelength infrared (VSWIR) and thermal infrared (TIR) capability. Our final concept design consists of a two-aperture instrument with an overall size of 0.76 m x 0.69 m x 0.58 m, weight of 131 kg, and an orbit average power of 162 W. This instrument is small enough to be a hosted payload on a standard Surrey SSTL-300 bus.

The significant result of this study is that we show that the Landsat 8 requirements can be met with a low-cost instrument hosted by a small satellite platform. We estimate the total cost of the satellite system, consisting of the instrument and bus, at less than 25 percent of the current Landsat design.

Critical to the success of any Surrey program are the team members that contribute experience and knowhow. The SLI team consisted of our systems integration and program management personnel, as well as experts from multiple organizations:

Dr. Darrel Williams is chief scientist at Global Science & Technology Inc. (GST) of Greenbelt, Md., and a former NASA Landsat Project Scientist who was able to assess the instrument performance characteristics and ensured that the instrument design addressed operational requirements for the next-generation Landsat satellites. Dr. Williams received NASA medals for Outstanding Leadership (1997) and Exceptional Service (2000).  In 1999 Williams received the Aviation Week and Space Technology Laurels Award for outstanding achievement in the field of space in recognition of his science leadership role for the Landsat 7 mission.

Dr. Dennis Helder is the associate dean for research in radiometric, geometric and spatial calibration of satellite and airborne optical sensors in the College of Engineering at South Dakota State University. He is the founder and director of the SDSU Image Processing Laboratory. In 2004, Dr. Helder received the USGS John Wesley Powell Award.

The thermal imaging team from Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) in Logan, Utah, consists of experts in the design and implementation of thermal imaging sensors and instruments.

Dan Lobb is chief optical designer at Surrey Satellite Technology Limited and renowned optics design expert. In 2012, Mr. Lobb received the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Bronze Specialist Award. He also invented the optical design of Surrey’s CHRIS hyperspectral imager.
The SLI study is only the beginning of what we hope will be a continuing working relationship with GSFC SLI Office and the Landsat program. We just completed a follow-on effort providing GSFC with Surrey heritage and experience in firm-fixed price programs and commercial practices.


30 June 20150 Comments1 Comment

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