A little more than a month after its launch, the ‘Menut’, the second nano satellite placed in orbit by the Government in the framework of the NewSpace Strategy of Catalonia, has provided the first observation images of the Earth obtained from space: an infrared image (grayscale) of some marshes located near New Orleans, USA, and a colour image (RGB) of the clouds in Europe. On January 3rd 2023, Open Cosmos launched the Earth Observation satellite aboard SpaceX’s Transporter-6 rideshare mission. The successful launch saw the satellite deployed and first signal received just a few hours later.
In the weeks after the launch, the Open Cosmos team continued this critical phase called LEOP – which stands for Launch and Early Orbit Phase. During this time, the team worked to ensure we could demonstrate good communication with the satellite on each pass, that the satellite was stable in orbit and that the satellite was in a power safe mode. This phase was successful and closed two weeks after launch.
Following LEOP, the team has now moved onto the commissioning phase, something that Mission Manager Jordi Castellvi calls ‘waking up the children’. During this phase, each subsystem is tested individually to ensure its standard functionality is operational. Following this, the end to end functionalities (at satellite and mission level) are then tested. For the Menut satellite, the subsystems need to integrate in order to perform complex actions such as image acquisition, satellite pointing and data download. This will continue to be tested over the coming weeks with the view to signing off the commissioning stage mid-March.
Encouragingly, just one month post launch, Open Cosmos was able to share the first images from Menut with the customer: an infrared (greyscale) image of the swamps near New Orleans, USA, and a colour image (RGB) of clouds over Europe.
Mission Manager Jordi explains the significance of this event:
“Although it is still early days for the Menut satellite, the fact that we have received the first clear image from the onboard camera is fantastic validation, not only of this mission but also the ability of Open Cosmos to provide Earth Observation imagery. The whole team has worked incredibly hard over the past months to ensure this project is successful and having imagery a few weeks after launch is a great result. We will now continue to work closely with the customer on the rest of the tasks required in the mission. ”