ESA Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes (ESA-EOP) have seized the opportunity to support the development of small and nano-satellites to complement the EOP scientific and application-driven flagship missions. These developments include new science driven missions and constellations which enable a significant increase in temporal resolution leading to new applications. This paper presents an overview of the NewSpace paradigm, describes the overall ESA-EOP small mission strategy and provides a brief insight into some of the small satellites being developed at ESA across three programmatic lines: Scout Missions, Φ-sat Missions and the Investing in Industrial Innovation (InCubed) Programme. The paper focuses on optical missions.
The requirements of the natural resources sector for remote sensing products are generally very demanding both in terms of data quality and coverage/revisit time. The MANTIS mission (Mission and Agile Nanosatellite for Terrestrial Imagery Services) is being developed to specifically fulfil those requirements using a compact and agile 12U Cubesat system. MANTIS will embark the iSIM90-12U (integrated Standard Imager for Microsatellites) an innovative high-resolution optical payload for Earth Observation missions developed by Satlantis Microsats SL. The payload consists of a compact binocular telescope specifically designed to fit within a volume of 8U, and thus ideal for 12U CubeSat standard platforms. The design relies on iSIM technology, comprised by the integration of four key technologies: a binocular diffraction-limited optical system working at visible and near-infrared wavelength; a high precision, robust and light structure; a set of innovative COTS detectors with 2D CMOS sensors; and a high-performance and reconfigurable on-board processing unit with super-resolution algorithms implemented. Open Cosmos Ltd. as Prime is responsible for the end-to-end space mission service, including the provision of a new generation 12U spacecraft platform, while Terrabotics Ltd. will analyse and provide data to the end users. The mission is funded by the European Space Agency’s InCubed (Investing in Industrial Innovation) program supporting innovative activities related to Earth Observation enabling European industry to compete commercially in the global marketplace. An overview of the development status of the mission will be presented focusing on the consolidation of the payload design and the mission end products.