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DTUsat-1: Camera
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The second payload was a camera for taking pictures of the earth. Unfortunately, the camera did not get ready for launch in time. The satellite flies a dummy to simulate the mass. While a camera is not very revolutionary, it has several uses. It is great for public relations, as it is very easy to grasp the significance and meaning of such an image, while results from other instruments can be difficult to present to laymen. Another application of the camera is tether feedback. Watching the deployment would be very interesting. Furthermore, it has been shown that an electrodynamic tether is dynamically unstable. An on-board camera could verify this and enable development of control algorithms based on image analysis.

Active pixel CCD cameras are a relatively new technology. Compared to traditional CCD cameras, they are simpler to manufacture (and hence cheaper), has a low power usage, operates at a lower voltage, and may be produced to integrate several functions in the image sensor itself. However, performance is usually somewhat inferior to traditional CCD cameras. CCD-technology enables low light imaging, ultra fast shutter speed and is still the prefeered choice for most space mission.

Cameras are used for a plethora of applications in space, ranging from terrestrial applications such as meteorology, environmental surveillance, geological surveys and many others, to the more skybound, such as astronomy, star tracking for stellar navigation and attitude determination. Unfortunately, space is not a very permissive environment: Space based cameras are subjected to powerful vibrations during launch, high-energy radiation from solar flares and the radiation belts surrounding Earth, and extreme temperature ranges.

Qualifying a camera for space operations is a difficult task, since the camera itself has to be able to survive the above mentioned conditions.

PICOCAM 2004 Sponsors and supporters, ordered alphabetically