Performance Estimation of a Medium-Resolution Earth Observation Sensor Using Nanosatellite Replica

Sensors (Basel). 2024 May 16;24(10):3160. doi: 10.3390/s24103160.

Abstract

In many areas of engineering, the design of a new system usually involves estimating performance-related parameters from early stages of the project to determine whether a given solution will be compliant with the defined requirements. This aspect is particularly relevant during the design of satellite payloads, where the target environment is not easily accessible in most cases. In the context of Earth observation sensors, this problem has been typically solved with the help of a set of complex pseudo-empirical models and/or expensive laboratory equipment. This paper describes a more practical approach: the illumination conditions measured by an in-orbit payload are recreated on ground with the help of a replica of the same payload so the performance of another Earth observation sensor in development can be evaluated. The proposed method is specially relevant in the context of small satellites, as the possibility of having extra units devoted to these tasks becomes greater as costs are reduced. The results obtained using this method in an actual space mission are presented in this paper, giving valuable information that will help in further stages of the project.

Keywords: InGaAs; dynamic range; earth observation; multispectral; nanosatellite; performance estimation; short-wave infrared (SWIR); signal-to-noise ratio (SNR).