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    The DRAGO-1 camera



    This is IACTEC-Space


    IACTEC-Space is the project within IACTEC that drives innovation and development related to the use of small satellite payloads and satellite instrumentation.

    We are a small team doing big things. Led by our Principal Investigator, Álex Oscoz, the team is integrated by 15 physicists and engineers who are passionate about space.

    The IAC-Space team
    The IAC-Space team. Credit: IACTEC.


      Our projects

      Our main task is the design and development of small satellite payloads. We have several ongoing projects, in different completion phases:

      The DRAGO SWIR cameras


      Our first instruments, the DRAGO cameras for Earth Observation, observe in the short-wave infrared (SWIR), between 1.0 and 1.7 microns. Their compact size, low weight and low power consumption makes them perfect for microsatellites. The cameras, DRAGO-1 and DRAGO-2, were sent to space in 2021 and 2023 respectively, and showed their amazing performance in their demonstration missions.

      The DRAGO cameras
      The DRAGO cameras. Credit: IACTEC.


      DRAGO-1 has a field of view of 190 km and a resolution of 300 m per pixel, for an orbit of 500 km. On the other hand, DRAGO-2 has a smaller field of view, of 32 km, but a higher resolution: 50 m per pixel, for the same orbit. Therefore, these two cameras are complementary in field of view and resolution, and among their possible uses are fire monitoring, volcanic activity monitoring, oil spills detection, desertification analysis, water stress monitoring in crops, etc.


      Example of images taken by the DRAGO cameras from space. Comparison between the DRAGO-1 and DRAGO-2 images of a region in Bangladesh.
      Example of images taken by the DRAGO cameras from space. Comparison between the DRAGO-1 and DRAGO-2 images of rivers in Bangladesh. Credit: IACTEC/L.Herrera/L.Izquierdo.

      These cameras are quite unique in that they include patent-pending technology that allows them to be used in space without an active cooling system, saving up to 60% of their power consumption. In terms of data management, the cameras can compress the images, with and without loss, they have encryption and decryption capabilities, and they also include super-resolution algorithms that enable higher-quality image acquisition, combining exposures taken with small sub-pixel shifts.

      The DRAGO cameras are fully developed and available for any institution or company that requires them. You can find more information and images of the DRAGO cameras here:


      VINIS satellite for Earth Observation


      The VINIS instrument is our next development. In this case, this is a much more sophisticated instrument, which will combine observations in the visible, near-infrared and SWIR wavelengths. It will also have a much higher resolution, better than 5 m per pixel - depending on the wavelength - which will allow the observation of the Earth's surface with a very high level of detail. The first prototype of VINIS will be ready within this year 2023.

      Image of VINIS
      Image of VINIS. Credit: IACTEC


      You can find more information about the VINIS instrument here:

      • VINIS datasheet


      The ALISIO-1 satellite


      ALISIO-1 will be the first Canary Islands satellite for Earth Observation. It will host a DRAGO camera and a laser optical communications module for the transmission of data to the ground. This satellite will be launched to space next year 2024, with the collaboration of Deimos, Open Cosmos and D-Orbit.

      Artist’s impression of the ALISIO-1 satellite
      Artist’s impression of the ALISIO-1 satellite. Credit: Open Cosmos.


      You can find more information about the ALISIO-1 satellite here:


      The IACSAT Astro-1 Space Telescope


      IACSAT Astro-1 will be the first space astronomical observatory of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, which will be used for the confirmation of new Earth-like exoplanets and the study and monitorization of near-Earth asteroids. It will consist on a ~22 cm mirror telescope, operating in the visible and near-infrared. This telescope is currently under development.


      Artist’s impression of the orbit of IACSAT-1.
      Artist’s impression of the orbit of IACSAT Astro-1. Credit: IACTEC.


      You can find more information about the IACSAT Astro-1 space telescope here:


      Acknowledgements: IACTEC-Space has the financial support of the Programa de Capacitación within the TFINNOVA program, the Marco Estratégico de Desarrollo Insular (MEDI), the Fondo de Desarrollo de Canarias and FEDER funds through the Spanish Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico y la Innovación (CDTI). IACTEC has the support of Cabildo Insular de Tenerife and the Next Generation EU funds through the Plan de Recuperación, Transformación y Resiliencia of the Spanish government.


      Meet the IACTEC-Space team


      If you want to follow our activities, results and latest developments, you can also find us in our social media accounts:

      In this video you can get to know a bit more about our team and our current projects. Make sure to activate the English subtitles on the options.


      Principal investigator
      Project manager

      DRAGO imagery


      Image of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote taken by DRAGO-2 from space.
      Image of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote taken by DRAGO-2 from space. Credit: IACTEC.


      Image of wildfires in Canada taken by DRAGO-2.
      Image of wildfires in Canada taken by DRAGO-2. Credit: IACTEC.


      Images of rivers in Queensland, Australia, taken by DRAGO-2 from space.
      Images of rivers in Queensland, Australia, taken by DRAGO-2 from space. Credit: IACTEC.


      Image of the mountains south of Turkmenistan taken by DRAGO-2 from space.
      Image of the mountains south of Turkmenistan taken by DRAGO-2 from space. Credit: IACTEC/Google Earth.




        Wild-fire monitoring

        Wild-fire monitoring
        Fires in July 2021 in British Columbia (Canada). Top: Sentinel-2 visible composition. Bottom: image obtained by combining the two DRAGO-1 observation bands in SWIR, where burned regions can be clearly outlined, with no smoke traces in the image. Credit: IACTEC/Sentinel-2.

        Volcano eruption control

        Volcano eruption control
        Volcano eruption in La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain) on September 2021. Top: Picture taken with a conventional visible camera from ground. Bottom: SWIR image taken with DRAGO-1 from ground at the same time, superposed on the visible image, so that we can see very clearly its capacity to penetrate clouds of particles such as those emitted by a volcano. Credit: IACTEC.

        Wide-field mapping

        Canary Islands
        False-color representation of the images taken by DRAGO-1 while pointing to the Canary Islands (Spain) on August 2021. Each image taken by DRAGO-1 is 200 km wide, so this 500 km wide composition corresponds to three passes on three distinct days. Credit: IACTEC.

        Desertification monitoring

        Dubai and Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), as seen by DRAGO-1 on September 2021 through its SWIR-1 channel (1100 nm). Notable features like the Palm Islands are easily recognizable, as well as roads, ports or solar farms, among others. Credit: IACTEC.

        Related publications

        • DRAGO camera
          DRAGO: Un pequeño instrumento, un gran camino

          El pasado 24 de enero tuvo lugar la puesta en órbita de DRAGO (Demonstrator for Remote Analysis of Ground Observations), el primer instrumento desarrollado por IACTEC-Espacio. Semanas después llegaban sus primeras imágenes infrarrojas de la Tierra, con una calidad a la altura de las expectativas más optimistas. DRAGO es el resultado de cuatro años

          A. Oscoz et al.

          Advertised on:

        • From science to industry, technology transference with CubeSats

          The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) has as main objective to promote and carry out all types of research in astrophysics and its related fields. This mission means that the IAC has been involved in instrumental developments for both ground-based and space observations for decades. This accumulated experience led the IAC to launch an

          I. Bustamante et al.

          Advertised on:


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        Related documents
        Design and development of satellite payloads
        Design and development of satellite payloads

        Taking advantage of the accumulated experience of optomechanical and optoelectronic instrumentation design in extreme environments and in space, the IAC through IACTec designs and constructs payloads for observing the earth from satellites in low orbits.