Geo Week News

January 13, 2016

Neptec LiDAR to Scan the International Space Station

International Space Station

Neptec has reported that by the year 2020 the International Space Station will house one of their sensor systems. The company has been awarded a $1.21 million contract to design an “advanced space vision system” to monitor the health of the aging station infrastructure.

“Roughly the size of a microwave oven,” the CBC writes, “the system will use a combination of three different sensors — a high-definition camera, an infrared camera, and a 3D laser — and will be mounted on Dextre, the space agency’s robot helper on board the ISS.”

As the the Canadian Space Agency writes, Dextre will use the system to scan the external surface for signs of damage. This will be particularly helpful because the station is regularly hit by small meteorites and orbital debris—most of which cause damage that is invisible to the naked eye or in places that are hard to reach.

Currently, this inspection work is completed by traditional cameras on the Canadarm2 and Dextre systems, or by astronauts who take spacewalks in order to capture up-close photos.

“Neptec is pleased to have this opportunity to adapt our world-class 3D LIDAR and infrared camera technologies to enhance the safe operation of the International Space Station and support future space exploration,” said Paul Nephin, CEO of the Neptec Design Group. “Spin-offs from the technology will give us an edge in world markets for Earth applications such as increased mining productivity, safer operation of subsea oil and gas infrastructure, and guiding self-driving vehicles.”

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