Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


POLIFEMO Report Summary

Project ID: 709501

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - POLIFEMO (POLIFEMO - Panoramic Multifunctional Sensor for Small/Micro Satellite)

Reporting period: 2015-12-01 to 2016-05-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Spacecrafts need new low cost and weight sensor easy to integrate in a plug-in approach and capable to improve platforms versatility while reducing integration time and complexity.
This is particularly true for the new generation of small and micro satellites to be launched in constellation and formation. Controlling small satellites cooperation and protecting the space assets from debris are two important issues of current and future missions.
The cost reduction and safety of space missions is a key issue for further expand European leadership in particular in the Earth Observation and Communication sectors,
The POLIFEMO (Panoramic Multifunctional Sensor for Small/Micro Satellite) is a unique solution for an integrated sensor capable to replace by one single unit the functions of Sun sensor, Earth sensor and Star tracker and additionally providing external situational awareness.
POLIFEMO is based on a innovative lens with a very wide angle (with a hyper-hemispheric field of view) able to look at a field of view of 360 in azimuth (panoramic omnidirectional lens) and 270 deg in elevation (hyper-hemispheric capabilities). POLIFEMO, with that extremely high field of view and unique imaging detection capability, results in a small, low weight, low cost and reliable (no moving part, potentially failure point) space sensor. It is unique in the market of space sensors and suitable for many space and non space missions:
● SPACE (LEO Eath Observation and communications, GEO sats, etc)
● UAV/RPAS/HAP: anti-collision & swarm operations
● Ground System for monitoring and control

The main objectives of phase 1 consisted in the technical and economic feasibility and in the market assessment of POLIFEMO. Those were successful met assuring the project viability and profitability and suggesting to continue the POLIFEMO development. The detailed business plan is available for those who want to join the idea for future applications or share the development.
Progetti Speciali Italiani srl, a SME active in developing microsatellites and space applications, has set up, during the phase 1 project, a very experienced team of engineering and commercial specialists for carrying on the proposed project.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The work performed fulfill all the objectives and Work activities envisaged for the phase 1.
Most of the activity has bees included in a comprehensive Business Plan and summarized in the technical report.

In synthesis the perfomed tasks are:

TASK 1: Market Analysis & Requirement definition
The task includes the study and specifications of the EU and international target market for the POLIFEMO aiming at focusing product requirement, market dimension and identifying potential customers. It has been based on the characteristics of the competition and on the situational factors where POLIFEMO takes strategic advantages . Therefore this task, includes: SWOT analysis and 4P definition sales targets and sales organization.
A complete set of POLIFEMO requirement and opertaive modes has been identified

TASK 2: Technological feasibility of the POLIFEMO
The task includes the activities related to the technological and performance assessment of the POLIFEMO sensor with the optimum design and customization wrt market expectations. The study included the identification of the different components of the sensor to be integrated (i.e.., panoramic lens, detector, electronics components, and signal conditioner and processing) in order to provide a compact, robust and low-cost device. For this activity other organizations have been contacted such University of Naples for algorithms, ANDANTA for the detector, D&P for Electronics. the project resulted feasible.
However technological risks have been also identified and necessary mitigation solution selected.

TASK 3: Strategy for the commercialization
The task studied a first commercialization plan for the POLIFEMO in the international market. It also includes a marketing and advertising plan, the list of launch customers and partnership for market penetration.

TASK 4 Economic statements
This task included a finalcial analysis for the three years form the project development with the indication of the overall financing needs (for capital expenditures, assets and working capital) and related hedges. Information on the expected profitability of the investment and the risk factors that may affect it negatively, starting from realistic assumptions have been produced.

TASK 5 Definition of Design and Development plan and Business Plan
Finally the task dealt with the POLIFEMO design and development plan including the definition of the Phase 2 of EC-SME program. The technical and programmatic resources to implement the project have been assessed.
All the activities carried out in this study have synthesized in the Business Plan outlining opportunities, assess risk and contingency plans.

In conclusion from the above:
The POLIFEMO business idea has been reinforced thanks the SME innovations phase 1 study leading to a better definition of system capabilities and design and demonstrating its feasibility through the activity of PANVISION and UNINA.
The major design and business criticalities have been assessed and work around solutions identified for the development phase.
The huge spectrum of market segments where POLIFEMO system and its technology may access and provide innovative solutions warrantees the success of future activity and investments.
Of outmost importance during the phase 1 was the identification and organization of a industrial/ scientific team including all the needed technical competences and expertise. That team has been working very well together to better devise the system and conceive the following activities.
The development plan was defined too outlining the amount of external and internal funding to reach a TRL 6/8 within two years from the start of the activity.
The market and economic analysis demonstrated the business profitability whenever the upfront investments are mitigated being them not pursuable from the bunch of SME of POLIFEMO team.
The detailed business plan is available for those who want to join the idea for future applications or share the development

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

"Polifemo is an innovation that can improve European competitiveness in the field of aerospace applications.
POLIFEMO is a multifunctional space sensor that integrates different capabilities (e.g., star tracker, sun sensor, and earth sensor for attitude control, awareness features for anti-collision or anti-debris), with the aim to provide a compact, low cost, autonomous equipment that can support any kind of spacecraft orbits and simplifying spacecraft design, integration and testing while introducing new capabilities. Its integration in small satellites reduce design cost and provide attitude control and space awareness functionalities using a single multifunctional sensor with lower mass and size and better flexibility and versatility.

The POLIFEMO sensor is compact and low resource consuming: the basic version with embedded processing may be outlined with a weight of 350 g unit, a power consumption of about 3 Watt depending on the operative mode and measurement rate updating, and accommodation requirement of about 10x10x8 cm.
The equipment can be easily reproduced because, basically, it consists of a lens and a CCD (or others) sensor matrix, which is easily available on the market. The data processing can be locally integrated by adding a dedicated processor (Field-Programmable Gate Array, FPGA or Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) or can be remotely running with the same firmware function on the On Board Computer (OBC).
The core of the equipment is an innovative optical head with a "hyper-hemispheric" FoV, i.e. 360° in azimuth and up to 270° (105° basic configuration) in elevation. In order to achieve the sensor the optical head is then integrated with other components such as a relevant detector matrix, proximity electronic and a miniaturized processing device for signal and data processing.
The POLIFEMO sensor can be arranged in different configurations depending on the mission requirement.
Clearly the POLIFEMO lens provides much better performance compared to a fisheye and reduced complexity respect to four cameras configuration systems.
The operations include also sensor auto check and calibration. While a first fix/safe mode is devoted to the acquisition of sun pointing when tracking is lost or spacecraft goes in safe mode.
The POLIFEMO design takes into consideration the following aspects:
• Improved and more efficient Algorithms: both to improve star tracker performance even with the specific lens used and to reduce processing complexity and power consumption.
• Reduced star tracker catalog: To reduce processing time and memory occupation taking advantage of the panoramic FOV
• Reduced fix acquisition time: The panoramic vision of the sensor should allow fast acquisition of tracking at least with the sun sensor mode: In addition, the capability of acquiring the stars over the panoramic FOV could allow solving the lost in space conditions other than providing a completely new way of operation for a star sensor.
• Flexible update rate: POLIFEMO because of its multifunctional capability may reduce the need of high data rate readings by star tracker mode keeping pointing by other modes. This should reduce power consumption.
• Tracking mode: POLIFEMO can implement a tracking mode keeping pointing of same celestial bodies. In particular it can measure the tilting of a spacecraft complementing or possibly replacing the gyros, if a high measurement updating frequency is not required.

The main components of POLIFEMO consisting in hardware and software elements are here below summarized:
1. Lens
The innovative “hyper-hemisferic (HH)” panoramic lens (owned and international patented (i.e, EU, US, Russia and China) by PANVISION s.r.l), is a very wide angle lens, compact (e.g., approximately dimension are 60x60x40mm and 80g in weight), robust, autonomous and low cost.
This lens (HH lens) is able to image a Field of View (FoV) of 360° in azimuth angle and up to 270° in elevation (0° < Z < 135°, left panel), the zenith angle Z going from 0° (zenith) up to 135°. The entire FoV is imaged by the lens on its focal plane .
The lens is composed by three logical segments: a fore-optics (the optics preceding the aperture stop AS), a lens for the frontal field (FO) and an objective lens following the aperture stop (OBJ) able to image the field on the focal plane. The fore-optics is composed by a catadiopter C with a reflective concave surface and a lens to speed-down the light beam (SD) making it slow enough when entering the OBJ through the stop AS. The panoramic field is comprised between the chief rays 2 and 3; they enter the catadiopter, refract on the first surface, reflect from the concave one and enter the SD optics. One surface of the SD is made semi-reflective and then half of the light re-enters back to the catadiopter and then it passes across the AS entering the OBJ block to be imaged on the focal plane. The frontal field is a cone with the axis pointing toward the zenith and extending down to the chief ray 1. The frontal field enters the FO, then passes through SD (also in this case only half of the light passes through SD, while the other half is lost back), C, AS, OBJ and is finally imaged on the focal plane, just on the donut hole. I

2. Detector
The detector is a CMOS or CCD matrix of 2Kx2K with a pixel size of 7,5 micron (5 micro ideal).
Operating in the visible from 0,48 to 1 micro.
This device should be a good compromise of a number of important parameters as spatial resolution, read out rate, dynamic range and the split-frame transfer architecture that allows a kind of shutter function as well.
The detector will be selected among already existing devices but to be modified and specifically tested to make device space-capable.
In particular it will be developed a special, adapted image sensor package that fits to the hyper-hemispheric and bifocal panoramic lenses and the aerial/space-environments.

3. Proximity electronics and control unit (PE&CU)
PE&CU will be based on a FPGA with the suitable interfaces to the Detector to gather CCD o CMOS signals and with OBC to exchange data and telemetries.
The PE&CU functions are:
- Interface with detector matrix
- Signal ADC and conditioning
- Data extraction and compression
- Data elaboration for ES and SS or ST
- Interface with AOCS or OBC computers for commands and telemetries (Can bus or RS 422)
- Sensor control and status monitoring
- Functional modes implementations
- Store the onboard star catalog
- Self check
The unit dimension will be contained in 10x10x4 cm or less depending on the requested performance.

Software (SW)
POLIFEMO SW is composed of two elements the control SW and the Processing SW here in functionally described.

Sensor Control SW
The sensor control SW will operate:
• Interface with main computer
• Implement commands into operative modes

Application Processing SW
• Process data according to operative modes inside the PE&CU
• Process data in a service computer (OBC or other)

All the POLIFEMO components are for the time being considered feasible and no major criticalities are envisaged. However the matching of detector characteristics with the lens design requests a careful attention, taking also into account star tracker needs and it will be performed since the beginning of phase 2."

Related information

Record Number: 190056 / Last updated on: 2016-11-03