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Remote Sensing Payload Development for High Altitude Balloons

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conference contribution
posted on 2020-07-14, 10:30 authored by Zsófia Bodó, Bence Dávid Góczán
Remote sensing provides fundamental data about landmark characteristics. Up to date remote sensing information is vital in almost every industrial and agricultural sector. Providing such data and processing services are interesting fields for both traditional space agencies and smaller new-space companies. However there is one method of data acquisition that is not yet widely utilized. With a stratospheric balloon large areas could be covered and balloons can be launched in a frequent manner. The UPRA Project (Universal Platform for Robotics and Aerospace) is a student project with an aim to develop a reliable, widely configurable high altitude balloon platform for university research groups. The aim of the project is to build a proof-of-concept multi-spectral remote sensing hardware and using open source and self-developed software to analyze data provided by the payload to demonstrate that high quality and relevant remote sensing can be achieved for a comparably low price. The payload train consists of a parachute system, an avionics module, a backup GPS tracker, radar reflector, a flight termination unit, a control camera and the remote sensing module (UPRACAM), developed internally by the team. The avionics module contains the main flight computer, which provides two way radio communication, live telemetry and scientific data and also controls the payload. A balloon-borne multispectral camera was developed that is capable to sense in visible and near infrared spectrum. The camera is made out of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components to keep the cost and development time low. The device has a twin-sensor configuration. The identical image sensors have a wide spectral response in the 420nm - 980nm wavelength region which makes them ideal for this field of use. The camera lenses are equipped with short-pass filter for visible and high-pass filter for near infrared image capture. Although the camera was developed for high altitude balloon, in the future it is possible to use it in small satellite missions since the design allows to easily integrate with CubeSat frames and various flight computers. In 2019 the project had four proof of concept flights with the developed remote sensing payload, collecting almost seven hours of flight data. This might be the first step to develop regular scientific remote sensing balloon missions in Hungary. During these flights the data collected might help authorities to organize protection or salvage during floods, after hails or storms. Also valuable information could be provided to the agriculture on vegetation covered areas and inland waters.



Proceedings of the 3rd Symposium on Space Educational Activities, 2019, pp. 209-213


3rd Symposium on Space Educational Activities, September 16-18, 2019, Leicester, United Kingdom


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Symposium organised by: University of Leicester, UK Students for the Exploration & Development of Space, National Space Academy, ESA Education Office


Nigel Bannister, Áine O’Brien, Alexander Kinnaird

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