Short question:

Which Cubesat Cameras Actually Worked in Orbit before the year 2019?

Context and explanation:

The very few missions which published at least one image I've found:

Other than those exceptions, it's very difficult to see any image sample allegedly taken from a cubesat. My suspicion is that, because they're produced with reduced quality assurance oversight and often with non-qualified equipment, that the general rule is that cameras onboard cubesats simply don't work.

Because nobody likes to give publicity to failures, this information is not shared so often. I've once seen a page claiming:

" April 2015: The (...) mission is operating quite well, 17 months after launch (..) the expected lifetime was one year (..) The platform has been qualified in orbit. The only remaining activity is the nominal operation of ADCS, although all associated hardware have been already in-flight tested.(...) Some images (shutter closed) have been taken with the camera (..)."

Images from said mission are yet to be found on the web as of 2018. But, it could be the case that I simply haven't found them.

So anyone knows other cubesat missions which successfully delivered actual images to the ground before 2019?

The year 2019 is set so new answers do not accumulate overtime.

Pics or it didn't happen!

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ There are over 1000 cubesats and at least hundreds with cameras. I think that's a little broad of a scope for a question. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 16:26
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage : That's true, but my guess is that (as of now) most of them fail/have failed to deliver a single image. $\endgroup$
    – Mefitico
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 18:30
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I know, but how can we validate that without checking each one unless someone else has already done so? It seems like it would be better to phrase this "Have any cameras worked besides these?" rather than "Which...?". Then, if you get lucky and someone has done the analysis, there is a unitary answer. With the current question, if you're wrong, then there could be countless posts accumulated below over time. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage: Very fair point. I've edited the question to say that it should have worked before 2019. So now the answer is definitely finite. I also understand that it would be a strike of luck if someone happens to have a compilation already done, but if someone finds a few more cases or a reference that would allow finding more with ease, that would be a great answer already. $\endgroup$
    – Mefitico
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 19:45

1 Answer 1


I have seen pictures from CubeSats, but you are right they are hard to come by. In addition to the camera failures you allude to, there is the issue that many CubeSats (especially those with cameras) are student projects with poor followup. One other complication is that the failure to take a (nice) picture can often be due to bad attitude control, so it is hard to make a blanket statement that CubeSat cameras are bad. Here are some successful cameras I found searching for 30 minutes on Google.

  • DAVE from CalPoly launched in 2018 and returned a picture.
  • IPEX, also from CalPoly also returned a picture according to this article and this presentation.
  • One of the first six CubeSats ever launched, XI-IV had a camera on it and returned at least one picture as seen in this recent history article.
  • Cute-1.7+ is CubeSat class (3 kg) but does not strictly follow the CubeSat standard. It too returned a picture.
  • The Planetary Society's LightSail CubeSat returned at least one partial image of its solar sail deployed.
  • Not a CubeSat, but a direct predecessor to CubeSats, Stanford's Sapphire returned a couple of pictures from its vintage 1991 Fotoman camera
  • Vermont Technical College's CubeSat "Lunar" also returned a picture. I particularly like this one as it was a co-passenger on the same deployer as a CubeSat I worked on.
  • And in 2019 (so doesn't meet your requirement) PWSat took pictures of its sail deployment. Noteworthy in the context of the question because there are a LOT of pictures.
  • $\begingroup$ Now that you have some experience and familiarization with searching for hard-to-find cubesat data, the question Cubesat mass density (kg/U) statistics? could use a better answer. Even some spot checking would be better than nothing. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 3:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You'd have to search many, many sites to get reliable numbers to compute a kg/U statistic that was useful/valid. $\endgroup$
    – Carlos N
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ ya I think the chances of a compiled list turning up somewhere are low, that's why I accepted one answer. Thanks anyway! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 14:45

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