Glasgow-based spacetech Craft Prospect is partnering with XCAM – funded by the Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation (CEOI) as part of the Salient project – to integrate its state-of-the-art Nuscis system as the camera module of the next-generation context sensor

The new technology is set to succeed Craft Prospect’s Forwards Looking Imager (FLI), which is a neural-network-powered imaging payload designed for small satellite platforms. The FLI not only provides image data but also contextual information on the Earth observation (EO) environment.

The context imager aims to address various use cases, such as cloud-sensitive beam steering for optical communications and agile tasking of primary instrument payloads.

It will also facilitate payload data optimization through data collocation and fusion. Simultaneously, CPL is developing a standalone data processing module to handle instrument-centric activities like neural-network-augmented inference and compression of payload data.

The project will culminate in a demonstration of the context imager and data processing module against customer-derived reference scenarios within a high-fidelity real-time spacecraft simulator. Key developments will be integrated into CPL’s OPS-SAT VOLT mission, slated for launch in 2025.

Murray Ireland, head of products at Craft Prospect Ltd, said:

“Our first-generation FLI has been a critical technology in unlocking autonomous capabilities in satellite missions.

“With our next generation development, we can utilise the Nuscis module’s superior image quality and the latest advancements in embedded AI systems to deliver a context sensor which is far more powerful, configurable and versatile.”

Karen Holland, CEO of XCAM Ltd, said:

“We’re really excited to be working in close partnership with Craft Prospect on the supply of an engineering model for the development of their context imager. We expect that our stereo CMOS Nuscis system will support a wide range of monitoring applications from satellites.”