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Multispectral Snapshot Imagers Onboard Small Satellite Formations for...

Nag, S., T. Hewagama, G. T. Georgiev, B. Pasquale, S. Aslam, C. K. Gatebe, and C. Gatebe (2017), Multispectral Snapshot Imagers Onboard Small Satellite Formations for Multi-Angular Remote Sensing, IEEE Sensors Journal, 17, 5252-5268, doi:10.1109/JSEN.2017.2717384.

Multispectral snapshot imagers are capable of producing 2-D spatial images with a single exposure at selected, numerous wavelengths using the same camera, therefore, operate differently from push broom or whiskbroom imagers. They are payloads of choice in multi-angular, multi-spectral imaging missions that use small satellites flying in controlled formation, to retrieve Earth science measurements dependent on the target’s bidirectional reflectance-distribution function. Narrow fields of view are needed to capture images with moderate spatial resolution. This paper quantifies the dependencies of the imager’s optical system, spectral elements, and camera on the requirements of the formation mission and their impact on performance metrics, such as spectral range, swath, and signalto-noise ratio (SNR). All variables and metrics have been generated from a comprehensive, payload design tool. The baseline optical parameters selected (a diameter of 7 cm, a focal length of 10.5 cm, a pixel size of 20 µm, and a field of view of 1.15°) and snapshot imaging technologies are available. The spectral components shortlisted were waveguide spectrometers, acoustooptic tunable filters (AOTF), electronically actuated Fabry–Perot interferometers, and integral field spectrographs. Qualitative evaluation favored AOTFs, because of their low weight, small size, and flight heritage. Quantitative analysis showed that the waveguide spectrometers perform better in terms of achievable swath (10–90 km) and SNR (>20) for 86 wavebands, but the data volume generated will need very high bandwidth communication to downlink. AOTFs meet the external data volume caps well as the minimum spectral (wavebands) and radiometric (SNR) requirements, therefore, are found to be currently feasible and design changes to improve swath suggested.

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Research Program: 
Energy & Water Cycle Program (EWCP)
Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry Program (OBB)
Radiation Science Program (RSP)