Open Cosmos, the UK startup that uses satellites to fight climate change, has successfully launched its fourth satellite this year. Its mission? To monitor volcanic activity and wildfires in the Canary Islands.

Following its takeoff from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, onboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9, the satellite is now in its final orbit — and first contact with the ground has already been established.

Part of the ESA PIONEER Programme, the so-called ALISIO-1 (short for Advanced Land-Imaging Satellite for Infrared Observations) is a small 6U satellite, developed for the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands. Its aim is to transform Earth monitoring capabilities and optical communications from space.

The satellite’s primary payload is DRAGO-2, a compact uncooled camera operating in the Short-Wave Infrared (SWIR) range — which provides a viewpoint invisible to the human eye. It will provide precise observations of the area, crucial for applications such as volcano and wildlife monitoring, oil spill detection, and desertification control.

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ALISIO-1 also carries an optical communications terminal for space-Earth communications. The technology is using laser beams to transmit data through the vacuum of space and the startup claims it offers two significant advantages compared to traditional radio-frequency methods: enhanced data transfer and increased security.

OpenCosmos ALISIO-1 satellite