A Satellite for Fire Detection

Our wildfire detection system currently receives data from a variety of existing satellites. However, by developing our own constellation of nanosatellites we will be able to speed up detection times from days to minutes.

Why are we building our own satellites?

Due to the miniaturization of technology in the last few years, it is now possible to put a camera, an image processing unit, and the necessary support electronics into a 3-unit CubeSat with the size of 30x10x10 cm³. The so-called New Space movement enables the launch of standardized nanosatellites. They are built with commonly available off-the-shelf components, and are relatively cheap compared to old large satellites, allowing the establishment of larger constellations.

Satellite Constellation

Constellation of nanosatellites

The first step is the launch of complementary satellites. Even the first few so-called CubeSats will increase the number of revisits, creating greater coverage of the earth’s surface and detecting wildfires earlier.

In the long term, our goal is to to build a constellation with the specifications such as:

  • 600 km sun-synchronous orbit
  • up to 7 orbital planes, launched in several steps
  • multiple revisits every hour
  • launched on ad-hoc rideshare missions as well as dedicated launches

Innovative CubeSat

Our patented CubeSat architecture leads to a 40% higher payload volume compared to traditional CubeSat systems. It allows to integrate parts of the satellite bus into multiple, redundant side-panels and therefore enables high scalability and reliability of our satellite.
Because of that innovative architecture, we can fit everything into a 3U-CubeSat: A standardized format that represents the best trade-off between space, launch opportunities and cost.

Our patent-pending multispectral thermal infrared imager module is optimized for the volumetric constraints of CubeSats. It can sense midwave as well as long-wave infrared radiation, which makes it the ideal choice for detecting high-temperature events – wildfires.
The self-developed optical system, the filter and sensor interfaces are extended by a small RGB camera in the visible spectrum, which is used for cloud detection and ground track calibration.

Our cutting edge GPU accelerated onboard processing module significantly reduces the downlink latency and bandwidth. Wildfires can already be detected onboard the satellite and are distributed with the help of relay communication. This technology makes us independent of satellite ground station overpasses to send down data, in contrary to conventional satellites. This cuts down the delay of wildfire alert dissemination by several hours.
Also other use-cases are conceivable, like user apps running on-board the satellite, generating valuable real-time information which can be processed further.

After the wildfire alerts are generated by the processing module, the information is sent down via a real-time communication link. The use of Globalstar simplex transmitters allows the alerts to be sent to our ground segment within seconds from anywhere in orbit.

Development Partners