VMC - Visual Monitoring Camera (Cube model)

OIP, as subcontractor to Thales Alenia Space (F), together with Cypress (B), developed small cameras for the monitoring of the separation of the Herschel and Planck spacecrafts. OIP was fully responsible for the development of the miniaturized VMC cameras.

The flight model was successfully flown on the Herschel-Planck mission (2009).

The flight space camera was re-named in the frame of the Exomars 2016 mission into DECA, Descent Camera, and was flown on the Schiaparelli module, a landing demonstration module. This camera became the first hardware developed by OIP ever to set foot on a planet different than the Earth!

“Cubic” Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC)

The Visual Monitoring Camera on board Herschel-Planck (VMC-HP) was a stand-alone small digital camera with addressable CMOS array detector, providing B&W images.
The camera objective has a square 60° x 60° FOV and is able to take sharp images between 3 m and infinity.

This camera has a mass of 0.6 kg, a low power consumption of less than 3 W (average) and dimensions of about 9 × 9 × 9 cm³. It can capture 15 images at 1,5 s intervals and store them in a local memory. After acquisition, the image data can be obtained through the camera.

The primary function of the camera is to capture a snapshot of a separation sequence and hence, to monitor critical events.



Solution: Camera

Type: Cubic camera

Application field: Robotic monitoring, Space webcam

Mission: Herschel-Planck and ExoMars2016

Life: Herschel-Planck completed. Exomars2016 ended (Lander crash).

DECA – DEscent CAmera onboard ExoMars2016

The flight spare model of the Herschel-Planck VMC was renamed to DECA (DEscent CAmera) and scheduled to fly on the ExoMars2016 mission as part of Schiaparelli lander equipment to capature the landing to the red planet.

The ESA/TAS team prepared the camera to meet the stringent planetary protection requirements, as this camera will land and stay on Mars.

The DECA worked flawlesly throughout its descent to the Martian surface, but unfortunately crash landed together with the Schiaparelli lander in 2016.




The VMC-HP camera was successfully launched onboard ARIANE 5 ECA on 14 May 2009 from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana and took stunning images of the separation of ESA’s cosmic explorers. Exactly 26 minutes after launch the Visual Monitoring Camera onboard Herschel acquired a series of 15 breath-taking images of the separation of the Planck-Sylda composite, about 1150km above the East coast of Africa.

Exomars 2016

The DEscent CAmera (DECA) on Schiaparelli (ExoMars’ 2016 Entry, Descent & Landing Module) will image the landing site as it approaches the surface, as well as providing a measure of the Martian atmosphere’s transparency and to support the generation of a 3-D topography model of the surface of the landing region for the Exomars 2018 mission.
DECA is the re-named flight spare of the VMC (Visual Monitoring Camera), which flew on the Herschel spacecraft (2009).

OIP’s Participation

OIP, as a subcontractor for the former Alcatel-Alenia Space Group (F), currently Thales Alenia Space, was responsible for the full development of the camera.

The flight model camera has successfully been integrated into the Herschel Composite and generated nice separation images.

The spare model camera was refurbished and flown on the Exomars2016 mission as part of the Schiaparelli lander.


More details

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.