XCAM develops key hardware for Craft Prospect’s next-generation AI-powered context imager


UK based XCAM Ltd, world leaders in specialist digital camera systems, are developing a variant of their Nuscis electronics for the context imager in Craft Prospect’s Salient project.

In Salient, Craft Prospect will be using their on-board processing algorithms in a data processing module to perform autonomous detection and decision making for spacecraft operations based on image data provided by XCAM’s Nuscis system. Nuscis will drive two CMOS image sensors to provide real time information to be utilised in beam steering for optical communications, agile pointing of high-resolution cameras or for onboard removal of cloud obscured data.

The work is funded by the UK Space Agency’s Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation (CEOI), to raise the technology readiness level of new and emerging capabilities. The project will culminate in a laboratory demonstration using simulations and deliverable hardware.

For XCAM, this represents the third variant of Nuscis after the initial contract to develop WindCube was awarded by UCAR (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research) last year. For Windcube XCAM is providing the core Nusics processor, memory and control board, an auxiliary drive board for CCDs and a temperature control board. Here the core Interface Control Board will be used to drive the CMOS image sensors directly. These two variants are complemented by XCAM’s own CEOI funded development of an ultra-low-light camera system for low Earth orbit missions.

Karen Holland, CEO of XCAM Ltd, said, “We’re really excited to be working in close partnership with Craft Prospect on the supply of an engineering model for the development of their context imager. We expect that our stereo CMOS Nuscis system will support a wide range of monitoring applications from satellites

Murray Ireland, Head of Products at Craft Prospect Ltd, said, “Our first-generation FLI has been a critical technology in unlocking autonomous capabilities in satellite missions. With our next generation development, we can utilise the Nuscis module’s superior image quality and the latest advancements in embedded AI systems to deliver a context sensor which is far more powerful, configurable and versatile”.

Award-winning XCAM, designs and manufactures highly specialised complex digital camera systems for challenging scientific, industrial, environmental and space applications. They are one of only a few companies in the world to offer complete bespoke imaging sensor camera solutions. With over 25 years background in the scientific and industrial imaging market, XCAM have a worldwide reputation for their ability, reputation, expertise, and outstanding knowledge in their field.

The Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation was originally established in 2007  to realise an excellent, internationally competitive national Earth observation instrument and technology research and development programme. The CEOI is funded by the UK Space Agency with parallel technology investment from industry. Its key aim is to develop UK innovative technologies to observe Earth from space through the teaming of scientists and industrialists.

Craft Prospect Ltd was founded in 2017 to address identified challenges and opportunities in the newspace industry, using state-of-the-art crossover technologies including AI and quantum cryptography. They have developed several products to deliver these technologies into space systems and combine these products with an experienced mission architecture and system engineering approach, allowing optimal and holistic use of these technologies in modern satellite missions.