Earth Imaging Journal: Remote Sensing, Satellite Images, Satellite Imagery
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March 9th, 2011
NASA Satellites Capture a Stronger La Nińa

Industry Updates
NASA Satellites Capture a Stronger La Nińa
A new Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason-2 satellite image of the Pacific Ocean indicates the current La Nińa event in the eastern Pacific remained strong during December 2010.

“This latest event appears to be one of the strongest ones over this time period,” says Climatologist Bill Patzert of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “It’s already impacting weather and climate all around the planet.”

NASA JPL/Bill Patzert

The La Nińa is evident by the large pool cooler than normal (blue and purple) water stretching from the eastern to the central Pacific Ocean, reflecting lower than normal sea surface heights.

Gravity Mission Granted 18-Month Extension
Originally due to complete its mission of mapping Earth’s gravity in April 2011, approval has been given to extend the life of the European Space Agency’s Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Explorer (GOCE) mission to the end of 2012. In orbit since March 2009, GOCE is measuring Earth’s gravity field with unprecedented detail.

GOCE data will result in a unique model of the “geoid,” which is the surface of an ideal global ocean at rest. It’s a crucial reference for accurately measuring ocean circulation, sea-level change and ice dynamics.

The GOCE orbit is so low the satellite experiences drag from the outer edges of Earth's atmosphere. The satellite’s streamlined structure and use of an electric propulsion system counteract atmospheric drag to ensure data are of true gravity. Credit ESA/AOES Medialab

Gravity Mission Granted 18-Month Extension
Originally due to complete its mission of mapping Earth’s gravity in April 2011, approval has been given to extend the life of the European Space Agency’s Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Explorer (GOCE) mission to the end of 2012. In orbit since March 2009, GOCE is measuring Earth’s gravity field with unprecedented detail.

GOCE data will result in a unique model of the “geoid,” which is the surface of an ideal global ocean at rest. It’s a crucial reference for accurately measuring ocean circulation, sea-level change and ice dynamics.
GeoEye Acquires SPADAC
Satellite and aerial-based geospatial information provider GeoEye purchased 100 percent of the stock of SPADAC, a geospatial predictive analytics company, for $46 million in cash and stock. With the completion of the acquisition, SPADAC has become a wholly owned subsidiary named GeoEye Analytics, which provides geospatial predictive analytic solutions to defense, intelligence and homeland security customers. Optech Acquires Photogrammetric Camera Company Optech acquired the operations and assets of Geospatial Systems, a camera and imaging company. According to Optech President Don Carswell, the company’s clients will appreciate the benefits of having a single provider that meets their needs for integrated active and passive imaging instruments and solutions. Geospatial Systems designs and manufactures ruggedized, metric imaging systems for airborne applications, including many implementations with Optech’s ALTM light detection and ranging systems. Geospatial Systems’ Rochester, N.Y. location will become Optech’s base for imaging systems development.
Lockheed Martin Completes GeoEye-2 Preliminary Design Review
The Lockheed Martin team designing GeoEye’s next-generation, high-resolution imaging satellite, GeoEye-2, successfully completed the program’s Preliminary Design Review (PDR) three weeks ahead of schedule. The PDR validates that the spacecraft’s design meets or exceeds all GeoEye standards and program requirements. Next up is the Critical Design Review scheduled for early 2011, a key milestone that precedes the program’s production phase. GeoEye-2 is scheduled to be operational in 2013. The satellite will have a resolution of 25 centimeters, making it the highest resolution commercial imaging satellite in the world. It will be launched aboard an Atlas V rocket provided by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services. The satellite’s ITT camera has been in development for more than two years. Improved performance capabilities include enhanced tasking and the ability to collect more imagery faster.
Thales to Acquire Optics Maker SESO
Thales has agreed to acquire SESO, a French company that designs and manufactures precision optical components and systems based on optical, opto-mechanical and electro-optical technologies. Based in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France, SESO employs around 80 engineers and qualified technicians and generates some 12 million euros in revenues, 80 percent on export, with institutional customers, major corporations and research organizations. The company serves three main markets: space and defense, scientific programs and high-power lasers. In space and defense, SESO mainly supplies onboard equipment for spacecraft (mirrors and telescopes), as well as ground equipment (solar simulators, etc.). The company’s mirrors were selected for the IASI instruments on the European Space Agency’s METOP meteorological satellite series and the Spot Image Pléaides Earth observation satellites, and will equip France’s future CSO intelligence satellites.

SMAP is one of the four Tier 1 missions recommended by the National Research Council’s Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space for their high science and applications value.

NASA Plans Climate-Centric Architecture for Earth Observation
NASA Earth-observation programs are set to benefit from President Obama’s FY2011 Budget Request, which calls for $2.4 billion more in spending for Earth sciences during the next five years than the previous plan. If approved, the funds will allow significant expansion of, and launch date acceleration for, a range of NASA-developed Earth-observing satellite missions focused on the challenges of climate and environmental change. Highlights include the following:

2011 Missions – NASA plans to launch three Earth science satellites in 2011: the Glory climate monitoring satellite in February, the joint U.S.-Argentina Aquarius sea-surface salinity mission in June and the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environment Satellite Preparatory Project (NPP) mission in October.

Landsat Continuity – NASA plans to launch in December 2012 the Landsat Data Continuity Mission to replace the two remaining Landsat satellites in orbit—the aging Landsat 5 and Landsat 7, which has been plagued with technical problems.

Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) – Funding is provided for OCO-2’s rapid development and launch in 2013. Ad-ditional climate monitoring and research funding enables development of a second set of instrument hardware, following a successful OCO-2 launch, as an instrument of opportunity in a future carbon monitoring mission.

Accelerated Decadal Survey Tier 1 Missions – The FY2011 budget request includes the Soil Moisture Active & Passive (SMAP) mission, which will provide global measurements of soil moisture and its freeze/thaw states; Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2), the second-generation of the orbiting laser altimeter for measuring ice sheet mass balance, cloud and aerosol heights, and land topography and vegetation characteristics; the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) mission, which will be used to detect climate trends and to test, validate, and improve climate prediction models; and the Deformation, Ecosystem Structure and Dynamics of Ice (DESDynl) mission, which will study global environmental change.

Also included in the budget are climate continuity missions, accelerated Decadal Survey Tier 2 missions and the expanded Venture-class program.

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