Camera for Cubesat Enhancing Earth Observation Capacity

In today’s time, satellites are becoming more sophisticated. The camera for CubeSat is becoming more advanced and works for a wide range of space missions related to cutting-edge research. These technologies are being improved daily so that satellites can provide advanced data and information about the earth and even space observation.

What Is a CubeSat Camera?

Before diving into details about these spacecraft, it is essential to know what the CubeSat camera is. A CubeSat is a tiny satellite that measures 10cm on all sides; the dimensions are often classified as Units or U. Additionally, it has a maximum weight of 1.33kg.

These satellites work for various purposes like science, amateur radio, higher risk proof of concept missions, and technology demonstrations. Apart from communications and remote sensing, these satellites are now considered for deep space missions like a launch for Jupiter or the moon.

How Did CubeSat Satellite Start?


The journey of CubeSat satellites started with two professors – Bob Twiggs of Stanford University and Jordi Puig-Suari of California Polytechnic State University – in 1999. This goal allowed them to build simple spacecraft. In 2003, the first CubeSat satellite was launched; in 2006, GeneSet-1, the first NASA CubeSat, was launched.

CubeSat satellites were mainly used for university and academic projects until 2013, after which they were launched for various commercial applications. While there were 72 CubeSat launched in 2012, the number quickly rose to more than 900 by the end of 2019. The uses of these satellites have only been increasing.

What Are Some Benefits Of CubeSat Satellites?

Let us learn about some CubeSat camera benefits in this section:

1. Accessibility

Previously, only a handful of companies and nations had the financial backup and the human capacity/technical know-how to access the space realm. With the invention of CubeSat satellites, this scenario has completely changed. The introduction of CubeSat satellites has allowed all types of countries and companies access to space.

The advances in space technology, the reduction in waiting times, the appearance of new providers, etc., have significantly influenced this positive transformation.

2. Affordability

In the past, traditional satellites could easily cost you north of $100 to $300 million. On the other hand, CubeSat satellites do not cost more than $500,000; however, the overall pricing will also depend on various factors like the size of the satellite, the complexity of the mission, etc. However, the price is considerably reduced.

3. Quicker Development Time

Space technology development for CubeSat satellites can be done very quickly, thereby reducing the waiting periods. In most cases, the development of small satellites does not take more than eight months; if we are talking about replicas for a constellation, the waiting period does not exceed two months. Meanwhile, conventional satellites can easily take between 5 and 15 years to develop.

4. Updated Technology

No matter what types of microsatellites you plan to use, technological advances can be made at a very high speed. As mentioned previously, it can take roughly 15 years to develop a traditional satellite. The half-life of these satellites is quite long, which can be considered a positive point. However, the negative aspect here is that it will be more difficult for you to find technology that was used more than 15 years ago as time progresses.

Let us take an example. Consider that you have a mobile device that is more than a decade old. If you were to get your phone repaired, it would be difficult to find spare parts since the technology used by your phone will become obsolete.

In the case of a CubeSat camera, most of them are designed with a half-life of 2-4 years. Once they break down or stop functioning, a replica is sent to replace them. This replica is fitted with updated technology to improve the services significantly.

5. Small Size And Less Weight

The pricing of the satellite will depend on two factors – size and weight. For certain aspects of the launch and logistics, these two criteria will dictate the overall pricing of the project.

Basically, the heavier the satellite, the more expensive it will become. As for the logistics, the price and complexity of the satellite are interrelated.

What Are The Characteristics Of CubeSat Satellites?

Earth from Space

Before you learn how to use the CubeSat camera, it is essential to understand some of its characteristics, some of which include:

1. Module

Since most CubeSats have a very standardized size, you can use standardized functional modules like communication systems, power systems, etc. These modules are often known as commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts; COTS is one of the most important reasons why these satellites can be launched quickly and are more cost-effective.

2. Launch

The launch of these satellites does not depend on the types of CubeSat cameras. These satellites are typically launched as a containerized payload, which is fitted inside the deployer. It means that the complexity and the associated costs of the launch are significantly reduced.

3. Budget

Typically, CubeSat missions do not cost a lot. Non-space parts are often accepted for CubeSat missions, which contributes to the low-cost approach. Additionally, it also allows developers to utilize the latest industrial-grade and commercial components.

Most CubeSat missions take place in the low earth orbit and often have a short mission lifetime, so it is possible to use such components. The small scale and scope of such projects allow you to utilize less formal methodologies and methods.

Further, working on such missions only requires compact design teams, eliminating the requirement for extensive documentation packages. You will need a minimum level of documentation and formality.

4. Risk

In exchange for more innovation, faster implementation, and lower costs, there is a higher accepted technical risk for CubeSat earth observation. Then, some elements allow for different approaches related to risk mitigation like in-orbit spares and re-flights than approaches for traditional risk mitigation.

Final Thoughts

From the above, we now understand that CubeSat satellites have been enhanced to provide earth and space observation opportunities. These satellites are the best choices for the performance of the ground sampling resolution and the bandwidth. The CubeSat satellite technology as well as CubeSat cameras will only keep improving in the future and will one day pave the way for further space exploration.

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