HyperScout Successfully Captures First Images From Space

This first-light image from the miniature HyperScout instrument aboard ESA’s newly launched GomX-4B CubeSat, shows the southern coast of Cuba. (Credit: ESA/cosine Research)

WARMOND, The Netherlands (cosine PR) — HyperScout, the first miniaturized hyperspectral camera in space, has captured its first images. Developed by an international consortium led by cosine, HyperScout was launched into space on 2 February 2018. The images are the first Earth observation images of their kind captured by an instrument onboard a nanosatellite.

The first images were taken at pre-scheduled times, resulting in two random locations: Scotland and Cuba. HyperScout is able to take hyperspectral images, with a filter which separates the light into 45 wavelengths, each corresponding to a different color of the rainbow. This means a great deal of information can be obtained from these images. In comparison: a regular camera separates the light into only 3 colors: red, green and blue.

These first images are a single-spectrum single image where each horizontal line shows the scene in a different spectral band, proving the overall functioning chain of the HyperScout processing works as planned, from acquisition to compression and downlink to the ground. The acquisition of the images was performed by binning as well as compressing, in order to fit within the 1.5 MB requirement dictated by the satellite resources available during commissioning.

An image of Scotland taken by the HyperScout instrument aboard ESA’s newly launched GomX-4B CubeSat. (Credit: ESA/cosine Research)

These images are rendered based on raw data, therefore the expected effects due to the spectral filtering, the presence of the atmosphere and the solar spectrum are visible as variation of the response along track. These effects are later calibrated as part of the processing chain. The amount of light captured by HyperScout exceeds our expectations, therefore the achievable signal-to-noise ratio is very promising, enabling many hyperspectral applications.

HyperScout is a ‘linear variable filter’ instrument, meaning each across track line of pixels it observes is seen at a different wavelength from 400 to 1000 nanometres, with the onward movement of the satellite allowing a complete hyperspectral image to be built up rapidly.

Marco Esposito, product manager and remote sensing business unit manager, comments: “These first images have demonstrated that HyperScout is in working order. This is welcome news for clients of cosine, interested in launching their own HyperScout into space. More images will follow in a few weeks time, hopefully including the Netherlands, enabling further analysis.”

HyperScout was developed by cosine with consortium partners S&T, TU Delft, VDL and VITO. The development and launch of the first HyperScout was funded through the ESA GSTP program with contributions from the Dutch, Belgian and Norwegian national space organizations: Netherlands Space Office, BELSPO and Norsk Romsenter.

More information about HyperScout can be found on hyperscout.nl