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Hyperspectral Lightweight Imagers for micro-PlatformS

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HyLIPS (Hyperspectral Lightweight Imagers for micro-PlatformS)

Reporting period: 2016-06-01 to 2016-11-30

"Sofasi srl is based in Sesto Fiorentino and Firenze (Italy), and is committed to the development, design, manufacturing and testing of instruments for remote sensing, laboratory and in-field measurement. Since its foundation, Sofasi srl has been involved in several activities for the development and production of instruments and their characterization. Sofasi srl developed and manufactured an OGSE for carrying out the testing (in a thermal vacuum chamber) the star trackers produced by Leonardo SpA (Florence, Italy) – Space LoB (formerly Selex ES SpA and Finmeccanica SpA) for the new Iridium Next mission. Following an order from the University of Milano Bicocca (Milano, Italy), Sofasi srl developed a measurement system named Pollutant Detection System (PDS), which includes two instruments devoted to the identification of pollutants and the assessment of their abundances in the atmosphere. The system is utilized mainly for the monitoring of vehicle urban traffic although it is able to observe other sources of pollutants. In the framework of a technical collaboration grant commissioned by the firm Sitael SpA, Sofasi srl has designed and developed the laboratory prototype of an imaging interferometer named Shira operating in the thermal infrared spectral range. The instrument, an imaging interferometer in the triangular Sagnac configuration, cover the 7 um - 14 um spectral range and is able to reconstruct up to one hundred adjacent spectral channels. Sofasi srl developed, for Leonardo SpA (Florence, Italy) – Space LoB, an afocal telescope (Keplerian-like configuration) operating in the visible and infrared spectral ranges, up to 2500 nm of wavelength. This two-mirror (off-axis parabolas) telescope has an overall focal length around 1 m, and a size that exceeds 2 m. Sofasi srl has developed a sophisticated OGSE for testing the performance of the forthcoming Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) that should be embarked in the next Euclid mission of the European Space Agency. This FGS OGSE has unprecedented ability controlling a synthetic star-like source put in front of the experimented attitude sensor. The synthetic source can be moved with a precision of a few nm and its brightness can be controlled electronically over more than seven orders of magnitude. The new OGSE is also able to determine the orientation of the matrix array detector under test.
Relying on its impressive technical capacity and the long technical experience of its team, Sofasi srl deployed a new project aiming at the realization of a novel cutting edge technology in the sector of ultracompact hyperspectral imagers for Earth observation and planetary exploration. The Project ""Hyperspectral Lightweight Imagers for micro-PlatformS"" (HyLIPS) was then submitted to the SMA Instrument call, and got the support for the Phase 1 activities. The HyLIPS project is devoted to the development and commercialization of two types ultra-light hyperspectral imagers, one specifically designed to be hosted by microsatellites therefore devoted to the space market, and the other designed for drones and unmanned aircrafts, targeted toward a broader market. The sensors can be partially scaled in order to be hosted by various types of platforms optimizing payload performance and budget requirements. The HyLIPS sensors can be hosted by several micro-platforms whose utilization is growing fast. The market shows a fast increasing offer of drones and microsatellites and is characterized by a substantial inadequacy of miniaturized payloads. The lack of reliable payloads with small mass and power absorption is the main obstacle to the diffusion and utilization of the micro-platforms for scientific and professional applications. Often, miniaturized RGB cameras represent the most common sensor available for drones, while the offer of payloads for microsatellites is almost vanishing. The development (availability) of new payloads with improved discrimination ability would boost the market of platforms"
The Project was devoted to:
• Study the optimal configurations of the new sensors for various Earth Observation applications. In this sense, it was important to deduce which functions and features should be installed in which sensor model, in order to satisfy as much as possible the user requests while taking the price as low as possible.
• Execute the necessary procurement activity in order to identify the components and materials to be integrated in the new sensors. This activity was also essential for the assessment of the new sensor performance.
• Investigate the economic feasibility of the Project and thoroughly assess the potential and the level of opportunity of the pursued innovation.
• Evaluate the effort required to achieve some form of intellectual property protection for the sensor technology developed in the framework of the HyLIPS Project. One of the main obstacles hindering this option is represented by the huge costs connected with the development and maintenance of international patents. An additional aspect which possibly conflicts with a possible request of patent protection is the specific HyLIPS aim to develop new sensors utilizing only commercial-grade parts and materials.
• Identify the most viable commercialization strategy and structure to be adopted in order to exploit the new product. The development of the HyLIPS Project led to the natural evolution of the commercial strategy designed by the Sofasi's team at the epoch of Proposal submission. Nowadays, Sofasi plans to pursue two principal commercialization strategies: autonomous sale model and collaborative sale. Autonomous Sale is a traditional strategy of trade in which Sofasi is identified by the customers as producer and seller of the HyLIPS products. Collaborative Sale is a model of trade in which Sofasi is associated with some external enterprise to sell some item that is cooperatively produced by Sofasi and the associated enterprise. For this case, we have identified a producer of drones whose commercial offer could be supplemented by the HyLIPS hyperspectral imagers. The technical characteristics (autonomy and compactness) of the HyLIPS instruments play an essential role to this purpose. Simply, the future customer could buy a drone already outfitted with its hyperspectral imager and completed with the needing SW package and services.
• Derive a business plan for the exploitation of the proposed payload and the associated services. The business plan addressed two different aspects of innovation: the creation of a new line of products and the potential business shift of the company as a consequence of the larger production. The business plan analyzed investments (costs and returns) for activities related to extending the new sensors beyond the initial markets in which it will be launched.

The main technical objectives of the Project were attained, bringing to the development of two prototypes of the HyLIPS hyperspectral imagers with slightly different characteristics.

Feature HyLIPS achievemnt
Cross-track pixels < 4096 (maximum)
Number of spectral bands < 3072 (maximum)
FOV < 60o (maximum)
Spectral bandwidth > 10 nm
Explored Spectral Range 450 nm - 850 nm
Quantization accuracy < 10 bit (maximum)
Configuration of image acquisition Programmable (binning & line decimation)
Configuration of spectral acquisition Programmable (binning & spectral band decimation)
Operative height TBD
Registration unit capacity 32 Gb
Battery Pack Autonomy 45 min
Mass < 500 g
Linear size < 150 mm
Specifications and principal technical features of the HyLIPS hyperspectral imager.

The Table above summarizes the performance of a typical HyLIPS hyperspectral imager. We remark that the HyLIPS instrument implement the novel concept of sensor scalability, in which the instrument performance can be easily scaled up and down in order to best match the user needs and the platform characteristics. As an example, the number of acquired spectral bands can be freely c
"The Project HyLIPS allowed the Sofasi's team to develop a new concept of compact and autonomous hyperspectral imagers. The new type of instruments as far obtained is able to perform Earth observations at high spatial and spectral resolution, being suitable to be embarked over ultralight platforms since the sensor volume, mass, and power are extremely tiny. HyLIPS imagers are fully autonomous and complete instruments that not demand for platform power, telemetry (down link), and data recording system. Moreover, the realized technology achieves the sensor scalability concept, that permits instrument performance and power absorption to be adjusted according to the user requests and the platform size. In a different wording, the HyLIPS hyperspectral sensors always are the best choice for remote sensing campaigns for any available aerial platforms you would adopt and remote sensing application you can pursue.
The HyLIPS Project allowed us to develop this unprecedented type of remote sensing instruments relying only on commercial grade components and materials, following an approach in which the instrument always is ready when necessary, ""off the shelf"". In its turn, this feature means that the HyLIPS sensors are an affordable option for building up even a complete laboratory for airborne remote sensing without performance reduction with respect to traditional instruments, large and expensive. Any HyLIPS instrument is equipped with an impressive list of high precision supplementary sensors that monitor the value of important ancillary and house-keeping data. Among them we recall the GPS position (3d), the gyro (3d) data, accelerometer (3d), magnetometer (3d), down-welling irradiance (4 channels) measured on board, as well as atmospheric temperature, pressure and relative humidity. We point out that the availability of such a variety of ancillary data is almost never allowed, even by traditional sensors. On the other hand, this ancillary information is necessary to deploy any quantitative applications of remote sensing.
Last but not the least. The extraordinarily good news is that the Sofasi's team also supports its customers in any phase of data processing and product generation. This team has extraordinary experience in the field of signal calibration (spectral and radiometric), geographic registration of remotely sensed images, atmospheric corrections, and generation of L2 remote sensing products such as the at ground maps of spectral reflectance. Moreover, Sofasi has the laboratory and data processing facility to calibrate your sensor and process your data: HyLIPS it is a real ""turn key"" occurrence.