5 mins read 14 Sep 2021

Infinity Avionics and HEO Robotics to develop High Resolution Cameras

Canberra based startup, Infinity Avionics has announced they will be partnering with HEO robotics to develop high-resolution cameras for space applications. HEO Robotics plans to add the camera to their growing space situational awareness network. 

The Holmes Camera system has a wide range of potential applications from Earth Observation to use on rover platforms. Credit: Infinity Avionics.

A new partnership deal has been announced between Canberra-based Infinity Avionics, and Sydney-based High Earth Orbit Robotics (HEO), confirming that the space situational awareness company will be using high-resolution camera technology aboard HEO’s space-based satellite inspection services. 

The camera system, known as Holmes, will feature a custom developed high-resolution camera specifically to meet HEO’s objectives of delivering comprehensive monitoring and in-orbit inspection. 

“The state of the art camera range designed and built in Australia will improve the Earth Observation and space domain awareness capabilities of Australia,” said Mr Igor Dimitrijevic, CEO and Co-founder of Infinity Avionics.

The new range of camera solutions from Infinity Avionics is designed to tolerate radiation effects expected in low earth orbit, providing reliable imaging solutions for Australian and international space missions.

“We are developing this particular camera in partnership with HEO and ANU (Australian National University) is providing the optics for this camera,” said Dr Damith Abeywardana, Co-founder and Managing Director of Infinity Avionics. 

“Cameras owned and operated by HEO Robotics, like the Holmes imaging system developed by Infinity Avionics and ANU, allows us to further expand our coverage in LEO and provide our customers with timely insights,” said HEO co-founder and CTO Dr Hiranya Jayakody reinforcing the importance of this technology.

“We're developing this camera for the first mission, which is going to be with the Space Machines Company, so after that, the plan is to develop more cameras with HEO so they can improve their network,” added Dr Abeywardana. 

Developing High-Resolution Space Cameras

The Infinity Avionics Camera System. Credit: Infinity Avionics. 

Infinity Avionics started as a spin-off company from UNSW Canberra Space, being granted the rights to commercialise a number of the space technologies developed as part of the University’s space program. The company is also looking to develop a range of sensors for space applications after identifying gaps in the local market and thereby moving to utilise their knowledge and skills base to develop high-resolution imaging applications. 

“We are developing high-resolution cameras for different space applications, including Earth observation, satellite monitoring and space debris monitoring,” said Dr Abeywardana.  

“The first thing we noticed here in Australia is we don't really manufacture high-resolution cameras for space. As far as we know this would be one of the very first cameras developed for space in Australia.” 

“So, our plan is to develop this capability here in Australia and improve the capabilities so that we can have cameras suitable for different space applications.”

Whilst the company is currently looking at high-resolution optical camera systems it has plans to also develop a wider range of observation systems to suit a number of space applications. The radiation-hardened camera solutions that Infinity are developing have the potential to be used in a wide range of situations including on Geostationary satellites, lunar missions and rover applications. 

“These cameras could be used as observation cameras for Rover missions, we want to improve this capability here in Australia, so we have sovereign capability with space cameras.” 

According to Dr Abeywardana, there are many applications for the cameras that Infinity are developing which are designed to be used on CubeSats 2U and larger. 

“Small cameras could be used for spacecraft deployment, monitoring or to just to make sure everything is going alright with your own satellite. Then we can have a range of cameras suitable for Earth Observation and also radiation-hardened camera versions,” he said. 

“Everything going into space has to deal with the radiation, so that's one of the big things we have to worry about when we design the cameras. It has to be able to survive radiation levels we expect in different orbits and on different planets.”

Ability to React Quickly In Space

HEO Robotics plan to launch their camera system on board the Space Machines Company satellite due to be launched in the second quarter of 2022. Credit: Space Machines Company. 

HEO Robotics are providing on-orbit space observation of satellites and other space objects of relevance. The company uses a number of host satellites to provide a space situational awareness capability that will deliver a quick reaction capability for management of space debris and on-orbit inspections.

According to HEO Robotics CEO, Dr William Crowe, the partnership with Infinity will enable them to quickly develop and tweak cameras to meet the needs of their customers as well as the changing space ecosystem. 

“It's incredibly important to HEO to have access to cameras that can be quickly added to new space missions,” said Dr Crowe. 

“HEO Robotics is excited to partner with Infinity Avionics to build the Holmes Imaging System. Infinity Avionics has a proven track record of building robust sensor systems and processors for multiple Australian and international satellite missions and we are looking forward to the journey ahead,” concluded Dr Jayakody.