SWIR in Space

GHGSat uses SWIR imagery to improve air quality


We at Sensors Unlimited are excited to share the below GHGSat success story. Developed by MPB Communications Inc. the GHGSat’s microSat, nicknamed "Claire," celebrates its second year in space this June. Flying a Sensors Unlimited 640HSX InGaAs SWIR Camera  this micro satellite circles the Earth every 90 minutes collecting infrared images. Data from the microSat will enable industries to monitor and quantify their own carbon dioxide and methane emissions in order to adjust and better manage and reduce their impact on air quality.
"Our team at Sensors Unlimited is proud that our InGaAs camera is contributing to the mission of detecting emissions of greenhouse gases from space. Though designed for terrestrial use, the small swap, the robustness, the high-sensitivity and high-reliability of our SWIR technology is helping MPB and GHGSat exceed their mission goals.  In the first year they surveyed 1300 sites and the satellite is going strong, approaching 2 years in orbit" Doug Malchow, Business Development Manager Sensors Unlimited.

Learn more about the 640HSX SWIR Camera

What is InGaAs?

GHGSat-D (Greenhouse Gas Satellite - Demonstrator)  
Content provided by GHGSat
GHGSat’s first satellite GHGSat-D, nicknamed “Claire”, was successfully launched at 23:56 EDT on 21 June 2016, and reached its planned orbit less than 30 minutes later. GHGSat commissioned Claire within one month of launch, and initial images were released in the Fall of 2016.
CLAIRE orbits the Earth approximately 15 times per day, performing several different types of measurements: Infrared image of customer site, one-time concentration map of customer site (provided with abundance dataset) and/or a Full-year monitoring, including emissions rate estimates.

How does CLAIRE work?
Gases absorb light at specific wavelengths, creating a “spectral fingerprint” for each gas. The satellite finds those fingerprints using sunlight, and measures the brightness of those fingerprints to determine how much of each gas is present in the field of view of the satellite. CLAIRE  measures two gas fingerprints – carbon dioxide and methane – the two most significant greenhouse gases.

The satellite orbits the Earth non-stop, every day, taking measurements from industrial sites anywhere in the world. For example, it measures oil wells in Texas, oil sands in Canada, power plants in Europe, coal mines in China, and even rice paddies in Vietnam. The output of those measurements includes imagery and data products.

The value of understanding greenhouse gas emissions
Industrial site operators can use CLAIRE’s measurements to better understand their greenhouse gas emissions, enabling them to control and ultimately reduce them. For example, CLAIRE can help coal mine and landfill operators find significant leaks of methane, then measure those leaks to justify a business case for gas-fired electricity generation.


Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) Camers On-Board LCROSS Mission to the Moon


The search for water on the moon continues with NASA's LCROSS Mission. In 1999, concentrated hydrogen signatures were detected in permanently shadowed craters at the lunar poles by NASA's Lunar Prospector. These readings might be an indication of lunar water-ice, and the mission of NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) spacecraft is to find out if that is the case.

Two of Sensors Unlimited's SWIR-InGaAs cameras have been launched into space and are now in transit to the moon aboard the LCROSS shepherding spacecraft. 

Sensors Unlimited also hosted a MoonPie LCROSS Lunar Crash Party in Princeton, NJ to celebrate this exciting event.

According to NASA, the main mission of LCROSS is to confirm the presence or absence of water ice on the moon.  At 7:30 AM (EDT) on Friday, October 9, 2009, the LCROSS spacecraft was separated into two sections, with the Centaur rocket impacting the lunar surface, kicking up a large plume of dust .  The shepherding spacecraft section, with Sensors Unlimited's SWIR cameras, will follow four minutes later to image and analyze the resultant dust plume for water vapor, an important resource for sustainable exploration. Sensors Unlimited's SWIR cameras will help with water concentration maps, monitoring ejecta cloud morphology and determining NIR grain properties. Sensors Unlimited’s InGaAs cameras are ideal for detecting the strong moisture contrast in the short wave infrared.  

NASA documents note that debris plumes are expected to be visible from Earth- and space-based telescopes, 10-to 12-inches and larger.  The LCROSS lunar impact will be broadcast live on October 9, 2009 on NASA TV. 

For more information about this mission, please visit the NASA LCROSS official site and the LCROSS project site.