Tag Archive for: OpenCosmos

The OpenConstellation is the next phase in Open Cosmos’s mission to create a world which is powered by actionable information from space. Launching a satellite to access vital data has in the past been very expensive, yet the OpenConstellation project will allow national and regional governments, as well as businesses and organisations with more conservative budgets, to take part for the first time and access insightful, actionable data from space while keeping high levels of governance and security.

The OpenConstellation includes a shared satellite infrastructure managed by Open Cosmos’ team. It is based on advanced technologies that Open Cosmos has developed in partnership with space agencies and partners, combining some of the most compact earth observation sensors, near-real time capabilities as well as the latest data processing capabilities. Partner members of the OpenConstellation are able to contribute satellites in return for access to high-quality data frequently delivered over their areas of interest. 

A mutualised infrastructure provides the right balance between the budget organisations or governments can afford and the associated performance they need. It provides a great advantage to its members by multiplying their ability to cover their areas of interest and to revisit in case of emergency. Other benefits include the ability to respond in near real-time to emergencies and natural hazards and the positive impact on national and regional policies thanks to unparalleled access to frequent and varied data sources and applications. 

In addition to manufacturing and managing the launch of the small-satellite platforms, Open Cosmos will be responsible for satellite housekeeping and the downlinking and processing of payload data. This data will then be available for partner agencies to access and analyse through Open Cosmos’ data sharing platform, DataCosmos, which launched earlier this year. The cloud-based platform offers a powerful interface with different types of imagery, data from complementary sources such as vectors, drones and sensors, results from algorithms and a roster of applications that can make satellite imagery useful and valuable. 

Use space technology to solve global challenges

Open Cosmos designs, manufactures and operates satellites that provide global, reliable data to solve global challenges. It is one of the few companies in the world capable of delivering end-to-end satellite missions and turn the diverse range of data they gather into actionable insights critical in multiple industries. This is due to its unique combination of compact satellites, proprietary mission operation software and data platform, as well as its mutualised approach for sharing capacity, which will power the OpenConstellation. At the moment, all satellites in the OpenConstellation are built by Open Cosmos and include its multispectral and hyperspectral (RGB, NIR) satellites with resolutions of 2.5m and 13km swath, and 5 m resolution and 20km swath. Additional satellites with higher spatial and spectral resolution, covering other bands of the spectrum are planned to be added in a second phase.

The first generation of OpenConstellation satellites will start to launch in November later this year and with satellites contributed by leading space organisations in the UK, Spain and Portugal. Future batches of the constellation will be announced, from existing and new members, with the aim to provide a total of 25 satellites with the mix of spatial and spectral resolution the market is requiring. 

It is only through the range of satellites being used as part of OpenConstellation, and their respective resolutions and bands, and through the shared nature of the infrastructure that challenges such as monitoring agricultural programmes, detecting environmental threats and identifying illegal mining practices can be accurately and adequately addressed.  The increased coverage and operational support also mean the utilisation of the satellites is much higher than single dedicated constellations or satellites, making each launch exponentially more useful. Combining the latest technologies – on-board AI processing and compressing capabilities, satellite IoT connectivity and laser coms in the future – will put the constellation in a unique position to address near-real-time needs. 

Open Cosmos

Open Cosmos has announced their latest contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) on the NanoMagSat mission concept.

The NanoMagSat mission concept consist of a smallsat constellation to monitor the Earth’s magnetic field and ionospheric environment with an innovative revisiting time strategy and combination of instruments (one self-calibrated absolute scalar/vector magnetometer combined with star trackers on an optical bench, one high frequency vector magnetometer, a multi-needle Langmuir probe and two, dual frequency, GNSS receivers for recovery of Total Electron Content and ionospheric radio-occultation data).

The mission concept is proposed by a consortium from European entities. Open Cosmos, is responsible for the satellite and mission concept aspects. The French technology research institute CEA-Leti is focused on overseeing the payload and developing the magnetometers; University of Oslo is providing the Langmuir probes; and Spanish engineering companies Comet Ingenieria and Prosix Engineering are providing the deployable boom and optical bench. The Université Paris Cité’s IPGP, is the scientific lead of the mission.

NanoMagSat was selected as an ESA Scout candidate for an initial feasibility consolidation phase in 2020. The aim of this new activity is to de-risk all critical technical elements with the aim to propose NanoMagSat as a mission candidate in potential future calls of SCOUTs. These critical elements include a deployable boom, electronic components of the magnetometers and Langmuir probes, as well as the development of a satellite with a low electromagnetic signature. All these are key to ensuring that the payload matches the requirements to detect the targeted signals and meet the mission’s goals.

The activity will develop new technologies for expanding the roles smallsats can play in such missions: For instance, the boom needs state-of-the-art mechanical engineering to provide long arm deployment, compact packing, and very specific materials to maximise magnetic cleanliness. Similarly, all elements of the small satellite platform also need to be optimised for this.

Once these elements are de-risked, this will help Open Cosmos and the consortium to propose a mission concept aiming to cost less than €30 million and to be developed within three years, a fraction of the cost that such important complementary scientific missions have been in the past.

The current ESA Swarm satellites have been monitoring Earth’s magnetic field and ionospheric environment since 2013. They have helped researchers make a large number of scientific discoveries in regards to the dynamics driving their evolution, solar storms, the way the magnetic field organises the magnetosphere and ionosphere, the geology of what’s beneath Antarctica’s ice sheets, and even the migratory patterns of animals.

The consortium proposes a novel approach using a new constellation concept and low-cost small satellites to increase the temporal resolution at which the various components of Earth’s magnetic field can be recovered, as well as using a well-chosen payload to initiate new ways of sounding the ionospheric environment.

The innovative orbital strategy of combining a satellite in polar orbit together with two orbits inclined at 60° would provide an improved temporal revisit (the time it takes to return to and acquire data from the same location at the same time) of a little more than one month for latitudes within 60°N/S. It is also designed to work in conjunction with Swarm, should Swarm still be in operation at the time of launch. The approach is fully scalable with additional satellites that could be added to further increase this performance.

The Earth’s magnetic field protects our planet from damaging incoming energetic charged particles such as those coming from the Sun. The Earth’s magnetic field also organizes the way the near outer space (the magnetosphere) and the ionized upper layers of the atmosphere (the ionosphere) respond to solar activity.

This response can produce strong magnetic signals that can affect ground technology such as power transmission networks or, potentially, internet networks. It can also create radiation hazards affecting satellites in near outer space, and multiple ionospheric perturbations that can severely perturb radio transmissions, radars and GNSS systems – a group of hazards collectively known as space weather hazards.

Monitoring Earth’s magnetic field and ionospheric environment is key for investigating these phenomena, understanding their evolution and unraveling the underlying mechanisms, so we can better prepare for them in the future. It is also essential to aid accurate navigation, reveal properties of the shallow and deep Earth, and provide key information for geophysical surveying of minerals.

Florian Deconinck, Vice President of Institutional Partnerships & Future Missions at Open Cosmos, said, “This contract is a landmark for Open Cosmos and for the NanoMagSat mission concept. It is a concrete step towards making this mission concept feasible which if implemented would complement and expand on the results from renown missions like Oersted, CHAMP or Swarm. More generally it illustrates how ESA, the industry and academia can work together to show the potential of future micro-satellite constellation missions to significantly contribute towards big scientific challenges.”

Gauthier Hulot, PI of the project, Deputy Director for Science and Space at IPGP, Université Paris Cité, said, “It is crucial that monitoring of Earth’s magnetic field and ionospheric environment currently achieved by the ESA Swarm mission is maintained and improved beyond this very successful mission. This contract is a major step towards ensuring NanoMagSat can be launched soon enough to achieve this and demonstrate the possibility of permanently maintaining such observations with the help of low-cost scalable small satellite constellations.”