Italy: After five years’ work, Astrium Satellites is finally close to manufacturing a geostationary-orbiting earth observation satellite offering persistent 3-metre resolution video for military and civil-security customers.
Gil Denis, who works on advanced concepts at Astrium Satellites, said the video of a given area at 3-metre resolution would be the satellite camera’s best resolution..
Military officials have said they are willing to sacrifice some image quality in exchange for persistent video coverage of a given target area. Today’s earth observation satellites, with the exception of wide-area meteorological spacecraft, typically operate in polar low-earth orbit.
These low-earth orbiting craft provide images with a resolution, or ground-sampling distance, of well under 1 metre, with image swath widths of between 10 and 30 kilometre as they pass over areas of interest. Objects as small as 1 metre across can be discerned in 1-metre-resolution imagery.
The HRGeo satellite will operate at an altitude of 36,000 kilometre over the equator, maintaining a fixed position over a given point on earth.
Presenting the project here at the 63rd International Astronautical Congress, Denis said an early application could be maritime surveillance on behalf of a group of governments.
Denis did not provide cost figures, but said the current iteration of the HRGeo design used heritage from the 3.5-metre-diameter mirror on the European Space Agency’s Herschel infrared astronomy satellite. Herschel was launched in 2009.
Built for a 10-year service life, at launch HRGeo will be 10.3-metre high and weigh 8,840 kg, providing a 100-kilometre-wide image swath.
Source: Space News