optical payload earth observation

ASE optics SWIR objective reaches the space integrated into the DRAGO-2 infrared camera, launched on board a Falcon 9 rocket of Space-X

The SWIR objective lens designed and manufactured by ASE Optics has been key to achieving a qualitative leap in the resolution of the DRAGO-2 camera, developed by IACTEC-Space..

ASE Optics designed and manufactured the objective lens of DRAGO-2 camera, a space-borne camera operating in the shortwave infrared, designed for Earth observation.

One of the main improvements of the DRAGO-2 camera is the resolution of the camera, driven by the quality of its optical system. “We have gone from 300 meters per pixel to 50 meters per pixel” explains Alfonso Ynigo, systems engineer of IACTEC-Space, in the press release published by the institute.

To achieve these improvements, the team of optical engineers at ASE Optics carried out a study of all the specification of the DRAGO-2 camera, and, after evaluating different configurations, they selected the optimal optical design to reach the desired optical performance.

SWIR lens of the DRAGO-2 camera in the process of characterization

“One of the biggest challenges encountered by ASE Optics was the absence of precise values of the lens materials in traditional optical design software, so we had to implement a correction in the established models to achieve the right optical design,” explains Marta de la Fuente, founder and technical director of ASE Optics.

Another challenge was the weight and size: in on-board instruments for satellites and microsatellites, every gram counts. “At all times we were aware that we had to find the perfect balance between optical quality and size and weight restrictions,” says Marta, adding “we decided to go for an optical design that allows the system to be optically athermalised, avoiding adding mechanical elements, thus lightening the weight”. Both, the design and manufacture of this objective lens were carried out in close coordination with the mechanical and systems engineers at IACTEC-Espacio, for the complete integration of the lens in the camera.

DRAGO-2 was integrated into the ION-SCV 007 Glorious Gratia satellite carrier from the Italian company D-Orbit, and has been orbiting the Earth since 3 January, when it was launched aboard a Space X Falcon 9 rocket. The instrument aims to monitor the Earth from space and characterize climate change phenomena and other phenomena such as forest fires and volcanic activity monitoring.

ASE Optics Europe was founded to offer an innovative and creative alternative within the optical design and engineering industry: they design and develop custom optical and optoelectronic systems of high precision and quality with high technical performance for demanding applications such as New Space, Fusion, defense or science industry.

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