Home News GeoEye-1 high-resolution Earth imagery satellite to use SGI Technology for processing imagery

GeoEye-1 high-resolution Earth imagery satellite to use SGI Technology for processing imagery

Orlando, USA, 15 November 2006 – In anticipation of the spring 2007 launch of ‘GeoEye-1’ extremely high-resolution Earth imagery satellite, GeoEye, the commercial satellite remote-sensing company, has purchased high-bandwidth, high-performance compute technology from SGI.

At the Dulles, Virginia, ground station for the new GeoEye-1 satellite, four SGI Altix systems were delivered during the first calendar quarter. The four SGI Altix 350 systems have 16 Intel Itanium 2 processors on each system. The SGI Altix systems run Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, version 9, ensuring the Altix deployment dovetails with existing GeoEye applications. The systems will be attached to a storage area network that will also include a previously purchased SGI Altix 3700 server, which will be used for image reconstruction activities when GeoEye-1 is launched.

GeoEye-1 is anticipated to collect more than 700,000 square kilometers — billions of bytes — of high-resolution imagery every day. The four SGI Altix systems will drive core satellite image processing for the .41-meter panchromatic (sensitive to all visible colors) and 1.65-meter multi-spectral (sensing and recording radiation from invisible as well as visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum) imagery.

The GeoEye-1 satellite’s ability to go down to a .41-meter resolution means, in simple terms, the high-resolution imagery taken from orbit and processed by the SGI Altix 350 systems will be capable of discerning objects on the ground 16 inches in size or larger. At that resolution, one would be able to identify home plate on a baseball diamond or count the manholes on a city street.

A long-time SGI customer supplying imagery to the U.S. government, international governments and a growing number of commercial clients, GeoEye selected SGI systems because the record amounts of image data from the new satellite will require 4X the processing power.

“We have three satellites currently in orbit — OrbView-2 and 3, and IKONOS — but when GeoEye-1 becomes fully operational, it will be the world’s most powerful and most accurate high-resolution commercial imaging satellite. It’s going to collect more imagery on a given day than any commercial system currently on orbit,” said Don Koboldt, Senior Principal Geodetic Engineer, GeoEye.

“I chose SGI Altix because it has 64-bit processing power, not 32, and because there’s a lot of computing power required for everything we do, including modeling the sensor and re-sampling all this data onto a geographic system. Not to mention the actual volumes of pixel data that has to be processed. It’s both an I/O-bound problem and a compute problem, and SGI is taking the lead in designing systems for this need.”

With the scheduled launch of GeoEye-1 from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the company expects even greater sales from government, commercial and local government interests. GeoEye is especially seeking to expand their offerings into other markets that need high-resolution map- accurate imagery.

“Today imagery is in ‘soft’ copy, that is, digital format, and you can accurately position locations on any of the image sets,” said Koboldt, a former 10-year veteran of NGA who helped design components of the GeoEye-1 ground system.

“In other words we’ll know exactly where everything is-to within a few meters of that object’s true location on the surface of the globe. If you want to know where something is in terms of position, you could do it by using our image products and measuring on the screen. In addition to accuracy improvement, images are getting bigger, the amount of data is getting larger, and the Altix will let us step up a little more in terms of image sizes and file system sizes as well.”

– About GeoEye
Headquartered in Dulles, Virginia, USA, GeoEye is the world’s largest commercial satellite imagery company. GeoEye was formed as a result of ORBIMAGE’s acquisition of Space Imaging in January 2006. The company is the premier provider of geospatial data, information and value-added products for the national security community, strategic partners, resellers and commercial customers. The company maintains a comprehensive Quality Management System (QMS) and has achieved corporate-wide ISO accreditation. For more information, visit www.geoeye.com.

With offices worldwide, the company is headquartered in Mountain View, California, USA. SGI delivers a complete range of high-performance server and storage solutions along with industry-leading professional services and support that enable its customers to overcome the challenges of complex data-intensive workflows and accelerate breakthrough discoveries, innovation and information transformation. For more info visit: www.sgi.com.