MCAMv3 - Miniaturised Space Camera Development


The MCAMV3 development project has the following main objectives:

  1. To develop, manufacture and qualify a new generation of miniaturised camera (MCAMV3) based on an APS black-and-white sensor, fitted with low resolution space optics.
  2. To develop, manufacture and qualify a new generation of miniaturised camera (MCAMV3) based on an APS colour sensor, fitted with high resolution space optics.
  3. To develop and to test a High-Definition (HD) function in VHDL code, which can be implemented indifferently in the b/w or in the colour MCAMV3 versions.


In order to be a generic and at the same time space qualified miniaturised camera, the concept and design has to be well planned. The potential objectives need to be defined general enough, yet not so wide that a specific product cannot be designed. Wherever possible a recurrent solution shall be chosen. Simultaneously some elements need to have a customisation character (e.g., optics, sensor) in order to be able to adapt to specific needs. Henceforth the processes involved shall be designed to be largely independent of the chosen detector. Likewise the optical interface shall be generalised, while still allowing a customised FOV and DOF.


MCAMV3 is a non ITAR product which presents miniaturisation, reliability, efficiency and high modularity features allowing it to be easily configured for a large panel of space applications to provide in-situ images usually not available. It is a non-intrusive system with negligible impact in terms of mass and volume that can be proposed at low recurrent costs. The use of standard I/Fs (electrical, commanding, data handling, mechanical) facilitates the integration process and leads to cost reduction. The re-configurability feature enables to use the same MCAMV3 hardware for different space applications, implying important costs reduction during the manufacturing or integration processes.

The innovative MCAMV3 is a key enabling technology for the generalisation of S/C monitoring and diagnostic activities. For example, large antennae or solar panels deployments monitoring gives a better understanding of these complex processes in real conditions. This decreases both risks and costs and simultaneously increases the European telecom platform attractiveness. The possible applications are in the satellite market where large and complex deployments are performed (e.g., Sentinel, BIOMASS, JUICE).


The MCAMV3 is a self-standing miniaturised camera system of less than 120g. Fitted with a 70° circular Field of View (FoV) optics, it can be easily integrated to any equipment with only four screws and a single small connector serving as data and power I/F. The image sensor is a CMOS (APS) with low power consumption, and the overall control electronics is miniaturized. This sensor type allows a highly customised read out. The MCAMV3 can acquire images and video and perform initial data processing. Communication is realised with an LVDS and SpaceWire protocol for a data rate up to 100Mbits/s. The power supply is composed by only one +5V regulated DC for an average power consumption expected to be <2W.

System Architecture

The imaging sensor is a 4Mpx APS, which can be provided in both, black and white (b/w) and colour (RGB Bayer pattern).

The data control is implemented in an FPGA. The system includes memory to allow sufficient storage capability for large images.

Data communication is based on the SpaceWire protocol with a speed up to 100Mbits/s.

The proposed EM optics for the MCAMV3 has a FoV of 70°.

The specific opto-mechanical I/F is used to sustain the dedicated MCAMV3 optics with an accurate positioning above the APS sensor and to fix the MCAMV3 I/O connector.


Baseline Design Review (BDR)

Review of MCAMV3 specifications

Review of development, PA, and tests plan

Review of proposed design and sensor package

Review of preliminary MCAMV3 EBB design

Authorisation for EBB development and manufacturing


Mid Term Review (MTR)

Review of MCAMV3 b/w EBB design and functional tests results

Review of MCAMV3 EM design including miniaturisation process

Review of updated tests plan for MCAMV3 b/w EM

Authorisation for EM design finalisation and manufacturing


Final Review (FR)

Review of MCAMV3 b/w EM design and functional tests results

Closure of project

Current status

The project is about to conduct the Mid Term Review. The EBB (elegant Bread Board) is manufactured and electronic and functional tests are completed. Upon authorisation during MTR the project can enter the next phase and begin EM design, manufacture and tests. 


ESA Contacts

Status date

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - 10:03