The IAC launches ALISIO-1 into space, the first Canarian satellite that will help detect and analyze natural disasters


ALISIO-1, the first satellite of the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC), was successfully launched into space this Friday aboard a SpaceX rocket from the Vandenberg Base of the US Air Force located in California (USA).

The president of the Government of the Canary Islands, Fernando Clavijo, who has presided over the launch of the first Canary satellite from the IACTEC facilities, has valued the successful work being carried out by the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands and has said that “it places the Canary Islands in the universe of scientific and technological excellence, being a reference in a strategic sector such as space and astrophysics”.

In the launch monitoring room, which has been set up in the IACTEC building, in the Las Mantecas Technology Park (La Laguna, Tenerife), the president of the Cabildo de Tenerife, Rosa Dávila, the IACTEC team were also present. Space involved in the project, IAC staff, media and family members.

After the success of the DRAGO-1 and DRAGO-2 missions, IACTEC-Espacio has now taken a “qualitative leap” by putting the IAC’s first own satellite into orbit, the center points out in a note.

ALISIO-1 embarks a DRAGO-2 camera unit, the third instrument that the team is able to successfully launch into orbit in less than three years.

“It is the first time that the IAC leads a complete space mission, covering all its phases and coordinating them successfully, from design and manufacturing to launch and operation of the satellite,” says José Alonso, project manager.

For the development of the satellite, the IAC has collaborated with the company Open Cosmos, in charge of the design and manufacture of the satellite platform and Deimos and D-Orbit, responsible for putting it into orbit, have also participated in the mission.

This Earth observation satellite carries two instruments inside.

The first is the DRAGO-2 infrared camera, developed by the IAC, which showed its perfect performance in its in-orbit demonstration mission earlier this year.

Specifically, it is the most compact infrared space camera that exists, in terms of weight, volume and energy consumption.

The second is an optical communications module using laser, which will allow a higher speed of data transmission to Earth, as well as carrying out atmosphere characterization experiments on the Canary Islands Observatories.

The satellite will serve, among other things, to detect and monitor natural disasters both in the Canary Islands and anywhere on the planet and will complement the work of other large satellites such as Sentinel-2, from the European Space Agency (ESA), or Landsat. , property of NASA.

This instrument can be used for different purposes such as monitoring fires, crop desertification, floods, fuel spills in oceans and all types of effects related to climate change.

“Without a doubt, ALISIO-1 will be a key factor in the development of prevention and action plans against natural disasters such as the last forest fire in Tenerife,” says Carlos Colodro, electronic engineer of the team.


Álex Oscoz, principal investigator of the project, explains that “the final objective is to have a constellation of satellites that allows a daily or even several revisits to the Canary Islands” and adds that it would allow for a “rapid and effective response to fires and other natural disasters that are increasing in incidence due to climate change.”

“Our next objective is to have small space observatories that look at both the Earth and space itself,” says Rafael Rebolo, director of the IAC.

The IACTEC-Espacio team is already working on this mission and has its next two projects underway: VINIS and IACSAT Astro-1.

VINIS will be a new instrument for Earth observation that represents a leap in complexity compared to its predecessor, DRAGO.

This instrument will be capable of observing in multiple bands of the visible, near infrared and shortwave infrared ranges and will be able to achieve a resolution below 5 meters per pixel.

IACTEC-Space is also developing the first IAC space telescope.

Thus, IACSAT Astro-1 will be used to confirm new terrestrial-type exoplanets, which will position the institution as a great power in the search and study of planetary systems beyond the Solar System. With this instrument, it will also be possible to study and monitor asteroids near the Earth.

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