The Arkyd-6 (A6) satellite is a technology demonstration CubeSat designed and manufactured by Planetary Resources, the first of which was successfully launched on PSLV C-40 on January 12, 2018. Onboard the A6 satellite is a broadband midwave-infrared instrument sensitive from 3.4 - 5.1 microns.
The instrument was designed around upselected COTS components, then modified and qualified in-house for operation in low-Earth orbit. From a 505-km orbit, the instrument will achieve a 38-meter GSD and includes a diffraction-limited F/4 lens assembly. The instrument was radiometrically calibrated on the ground for at-lens brightness temperature over this band.
This presentation will focus on ground qualification and performance testing, on-orbit instrument commissioning, and instrument performance assessment going into nominal operations.
Recent years have seen a rise in the development of concepts for constellations of SmallSats or Cubesats for Earth Observation remote sensing. These constellations focus on visible RGB imagery or multi-band imagery from a handful of wide-bands in the visible or near infrared wavelengths.
Mid-wave infrared (MWIR) data provides a unique measurement, able to be operated both for day and night imaging. Recent developments in infrared detectors and the miniaturization of cryocooler technology enable this instrument be packaged in a Cubesat form-factor. Data products derived from the MWIR measurement have been shown to be beneficial in agricultural decision making process, specifically in irrigation and water use.
Planetary Resources is developing a MWIR instrument operating across the 3-5um wavelength for the purpose of prospecting near-Earth asteroids. In turning the gaze of the sensors to nadir from low-Earth orbit, a unique dataset is created that is currently lacking from existing commercial Earth observation platforms.
This paper presents the MWIR instrument, its measurement from low-Earth orbit and its potential for near-Earth asteroid exploration.