The images

The first images

The first SwissCube image came down on February 18 and was quite black with some thermal noise on it. The first airglow image came down on March 3 and is shown in Figure 7. Beautiful again! This image shows the airglow phenomena (bottom) and the reflection from the Sun (top). This image has been converted to the human optical range (green) from its near-infrared measurement.

The project is following its original operational scenario. We are currently characterizing the optics and the images, and elaborating the post-processing needed. We are also tuning the detector parameters for nightglow/airglow images and post-processing the pointing of the observations. Once all these parameters will be fully understood, we will go to the full observation of the variation of emission intensity depending on latitude in the following range:

A few other images are provided. These images were taken to characterize the optics (Figure 8), the darkest conditions (Figure 9), and the brightest airglow conditions (Figure 10).

Data Exploitation

Each image provides a measurement of the intensity of the airglow phenomena in the near-infrared. The range measured is between 500 – 61400 photons, with a resolution of 500 photons.

Along with each image comes complementary information such as time, pointing direction, latitude, solar local time, altitude at the moment where the picture was taken.

The data will be used to validate model of the airglow done by the students. This data will also be available to public and scientific institutions (interest from the World Radiation Center in Davos/CH). The Space Weather relevance of this data has not yet been assessed, and will be done once further images are captured.

What is next?

The mission operations team will continue its image data collection and processing work, in cooperation with atmospheric scientists.

The educational goals of the SwissCube project had been successfully reached with the launch of the satellite. We are now proud to announce that the scientific goal is also demonstrated with the download of our first airglow data.

This project would not have been possible without the support of the 200 students, academic partners, industry partners and sponsors.


Figure 7. SwissCube 's first airglow image of the Earth (shifted to green from near IR).

Figure 8. Telescope calibration image.

Figure 9. Telescope calibration image.

Figure 10. Telescope calibration image.