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GeoEye-1 The Next-Generation Imagery

Mark Brender
VP Corporate Communications & Marketing

Later this year Geo- Eye will launch GeoEye-1, a commercial Earth-imaging satellite which, will provide the high resolution and advanced collection capabilities in commercial remote sensing domain.

Offering 41-centimeter panchromatic and 1.64-meter multispectral in the blue, green, red and near-infrared bands, the satellite will enable clients to identify and differentiate small objects and features at high level of detail. Geospatial data users in the urban planning, utility, and cartographic disciplines – all of which traditionally map small features – are expected to expand their use of satellite imagery as a result.

GeoEye-1 will offer three-meter geolocation accuracy, which means end users can map natural and man-made features in stereo to within three meters of their actual locations without ground control points.

This level of geolocation accuracy will be achieved with the help of three onboard systems: a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, gyroscope and star tracker, which will enable the satellite to determine its precise attitude, position and location at all times. Another technological advancement found in the GeoEye-1 satellite will be its ability to collect a large amount of imagery.

In the panchromatic mode the satellite will be capable of collecting up to 700,000 square kilometers in a single day, and in multispectral mode 350,000 square kilometers per day. The standard image swath width will be 15.2 kilometers, but GeoEye-1 will be able to swivel and collect multiple adjoining swaths on a single pass, meaning that very large continuous areas can be imaged at one time. This is ideal for large-scale mapping requirements, especially in terms of monitoring climate change, emergency response and disaster relief.

The satellite will swivel up to 40 degrees off nadir, giving it an effective revisit rate of less than three days. Once in orbit the satellite will undergo approximately 45-60 days of calibration and checkout. The satellite will then commence a three-month imaging operation dedicated almost exclusively to meeting the needs of the U.S. Government’s National Geospatial- Intelligence Agency (NGA).

While GeoEye-1 will be able to collect imagery with a resolution of 41 centimeters, under the company’s current operating license from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), the imagery will be re-sampled to 50 centimeters or half a meter for commercial customers. However, modification to this licensing constraint is being worked upon, to offer customers best available product and more effectively compete with providers outside the United States.