Oplatek mirrors orbiting the Earth
Some of our thin film coatings manufactured here at the Oplatek premises in Leppävirta, Finland, have made a long travel, all the way to the outer space!
Sometimes we must meet some very demanding requirements before our customer can succeed. Recently we had an opportunity to test our skills with thin film coatings in one of the toughest and most exciting environments you can imagine. We were asked to provide thin film mirrors to a groundbreaking camera technology, which was to be used in a pioneering nanosatellite mission operated by Finnish company Reaktor Space Lab. The mirrors are essential functional parts of the camera technology in question, the hyperspectral imager. Hyperspectral imaging is used for imaging material properties beyond the capabilities of eye or photography. It is about gathering spectral data from every pixel and translating this into maps of chemical information. Identification of materials over a geographical area is one example of this kind of imaging.
The hyperspectral camera technology for the Reaktor Hello World nanosatellite was developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The camera operates at 900-1400 nm wavelength range. It is the first hyperspectral imager in a nanosatellite operating completely in the infrared. This has been enabled by its tiny size. With the weight of just 500 g, it is the smallest space-grade hyperspectral imager thus far.
With the help of this novel imaging technology, nanosatellites are now able to collect critical data on the state of our planet. This can include ocean monitoring, agriculture, forestry and geology, just to name a few application areas. In the future, these kinds of hyperspectral imaging instruments can also be used in asteroid prospecting applications.
Reaktor Hello World, Finland’s first commercially built nanosatellite, was launched into space from India on 29 November 2018. Now, the satellite has been two years in orbit. It is currently flying at the altitude of 500 km and at the speed of 7.6 km/s. If you want to learn more details, You can check the current location and other real-time data of the satellite by yourself from Reaktor Space Lab’s website.
Both the satellite and the hyperspectral camera are working well. We at Oplatek are very eager to learn about the data and applications that Reaktor Space Lab and VTT will provide with the help of this novel imaging technology. We are also very proud that we have had our own contribution to this inspiring photonics application with our thin film coatings.