The camera dragon 2 developed entirely by the team of Iactec Space in Tenerife it is already orbiting in space, and there it will remain for the next year. This is the second camera that the small group of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias has successfully launched into space in recent years. The takeoff took place on Tuesday, January 3 at 2:56 p.m. (Canary Islands time, at 9:56 a.m. in Cape Canaveral, Florida), with absolute punctuality and could be followed by the team and their families, who met in the Technological and Scientific Park of Las Mantecas to celebrate, amid applause and cheers, this technological feat. The director of the IAC, Rafael Rebolo, also attended this meeting and expressed his “satisfaction” at seeing this idea fully gestated in the Canary Islands and financially supported by the Cabildo de Tenerife progress, and stressed that there are not many institutions in the world that, like They have spent so much time and effort to develop this infrared camera design project.
‘Drago 2’ will offer images of the earth’s surface to verify its operation
The Iactec Space Two years ago he launched the camera into space dragon 1 and, after the good results obtained, they have continued to develop a new camera, the dragon 2with new features. After the design, manufacture and ground testing of the device that operates in the short-wave infrared range, the last phase of the test is now transferred to space, where it will remain orbiting the Earth for a year. The head of communication at Iactec Espacio, Patricia Chinchilla, explains that the tests these cameras are subjected to have to do with changes in temperature, behavior in a vacuum and under pressure. Now, for the phase in space, the IAC has reached an agreement with an Italian company and thanks to that the dragon 2 It is now integrated into a satellite that was launched into space to, in turn, launch other smaller ones on which this camera with the Canary seal that is already traveling around the planet is attached.
Thus, throughout this year, the Tenerife team will be checking the images taken by dragon 2 to make sure it works fine. “After this validation period, we will be able to say that our camera is perfectly prepared for use by other institutions or any company in satellite constellations,” explains Chinchilla, who recalls that dragon 1 It has already passed its corresponding validation in space for one year and is available to all those institutions that wish to do so. earth observationsthe state of the vegetation, fires or any event on the earth’s surface.
The benefits of the dragon 1 Y 2 They are different. While the first camera had a larger field of view but lower resolution, the dragon 2 It has a smaller field but with higher resolution. Thus, these are complementary cameras that will be used depending on the level of detail that you want to obtain. Patricia Chinchilla He adds that in this new mission that began with the launch of the new technology in Tenerife, better results can be obtained simply because the infrared images can be compared with other visible ones, since the satellite in which the camera travels has another incorporated which will complete the observations. Precisely this combination of images will allow the Iactec Espacio team to continue advancing in their next projects, such as the Wineswhich combines observation in the visible and infrared range, with a much higher resolution than that of cameras dragon tree. It is an instrument larger than those that have been launched so far into space, and that fits in the palm of a hand. “Wines it will be more sophisticated and will have a larger size because it has more resolution and combines both visions”, summarizes Chinchilla.
another year of work
Although the phase that began with the launch of the camera into space is the last of a long work, there is still a year ahead of studies and checks to guarantee the proper functioning of dragon 2. Throughout the next few months, images will be taken of different points of the Earth’s surface to check how the device behaves throughout the entire space journey. “dragon 1 it gave us very good results, so much so that we were surprised, so we hope to obtain a similar result with this new project”, assures the head of communication at Iactec Espacio.
dragon 1 It has a field of view of 190 kilometers and a resolution of 300 microns per pixel, if placed in an orbit 500 kilometers high. for his partdragon 2 Has a smaller field of vision 32 kilometers, but at a higher resolution: 50 microns per pixel, for the same orbit. Thus, both cameras are complementary in terms of field of view and resolution and their possible uses include fire control, monitoring of volcanic activity, detection of oil spills at sea or control of desertification and humidity in the crops.
Now, the Iactec Espacio team made up of 13 people will check the images received from space. It is a small team, “but we are achieving some pretty impressive things,” they acknowledged during the launch. Before sending this camera into space, the Tenerife team has carried out different environmental tests, such as vibration tests, thermal cycling and optical tests that were carried out over several weeks at the facilities of the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA) in Torrejón de Ardoz in Madrid and at the Center for Aeronautical Technologies (CTA) in Álava. In addition, part of the team traveled to integrate the camera into the satellite.