Industry Updates May-June

by | May 19, 2011

Japanese Satellite Fails While Imaging Tsunami Wreckage

A 2.5-meter ALOS natural-color image shows Saint Petersburg, Russia.


Japan's Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) may be lost after losing power April 22, 2011, while mapping the nation's devastated coast. Engineers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) were struggling to find what caused the 5-year-old satellite to suddenly lose power shortly after dawn.

The satellite, called Daichi, was launched in 2006 and designed to last three years. When it powered down, the satellite was mapping the eastern coast of Japan's Tohoku region, which suffered extensive damage from the March 11, 2011, tsunami that struck Japan following an 8.9-magnitude earthquake in the Pacific Ocean.

India Launches Resourcesat-2 Satellite, Two Others

Resourcesat-2 is the 18th remote sensing satellite built by ISRO.

India successfully launched three satellites on April 20, 2011, including Resourcesat-2, its latest Earth observation platform. The other two satellites were Singapore's X-Sat and the Indo-Russian Youthsat.

Built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Resourcesat-2 is designed to replace Resourcesat-1, launched in 2003. The satellite was launched aboard India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and carries an experimental ship identification payload. The launch took place from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota Island off southeastern India. X-Sat and Youthsat are microsatellites that will monitor soil erosion and thermosphere-ionosphere changes, respectively.

Astrium Proceeds with European Data-Relay System
Astrium Services formalized an initial contract with Bremen, Germany-based satellite builder OHB Technology to design a satellite that will be part of the European Data Relay System (EDRS). The contract, valued at 7.4 million euros, tasks OHB to proceed with designing a satellite expected to cost around 150 million euros to build.

At a total estimated cost of 400 million euros, EDRS is designed to speed satellite imagery to users quickly. Initial customers will be the European Space Agency (ESA), which is financing the project, and the European Union (EU). The EU operates several Earth observation satellites. Astrium Services is expected to contribute about 25 percent of the total cost. In return, it will be paid an annual fee by ESA to provide EDRS services.

USGS Releases Updated Land Cover Database

The U.S. Geological Survey announced the latest edition of the National Land Cover Database (NLCD), which documents precisely where land cover change has occurred between 2001 and 2006. NLCD is used for thousands of applications to investigate ecosystem status and health, spatial patterns of biodiversity, indications of climate change and best practices in land management.

Periodic updating of the NLCD can be compared to taking a new census of the state of our land cover, explains USGS Director Marcia McNutt. Just as repeating the census reveals demographic trends that provide a wealth of information for social science research, monitoring land cover change can similarly serve many purposes in natural science and land management.

Based on Landsat satellite imagery taken in 2006, the broad, yet meticulous, database was constructed in a five-year collaborative effort by the 11-member federal interagency Multi‘Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium. The carefully calibrated data describe the land surface condition of each 30-meter cell of land in the conterminous United States and identifies which ones have changed since 2001. For more information, visit the NLCD Web site at

Esri Signs Strategic Contract with GeoEye

GeoEye and Esri signed a strategic contract to license a large amount of GeoEye's high-resolution IKONOS archive imagery. Esri will blend the imagery with its current imagery data from multiple sensors to produce a global, static cache map layer.

This imagery base layer will be displayed and served to Esri users via, an online system for working with geographic information through a range of GIS desktops, Web browsers and mobile devices. Esri will begin building the imagery base layer within the next few weeks and expects to complete it in early 2012.

Antarctic History Made with First Airborne Hyperspectral Survey

The hyperspectral sensors collected data in three strategic infrared spectral regions: 0.38-1.05 microns, 0.95-2.45 microns and 8-11.5 microns.

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) recently completed the first airborne hyperspectral survey in Antarctica using three hyperspectral imagers covering VNIR, SWIR and LWIR spectral wavelengths. The submeter airborne datasets will be used to establish a high-resolution baseline vegetation survey on the continent and to better characterize and validate existing and future satellite-based measurements and analysis methodologies over the region.

ITRES, along with Defense R&D Canada-Suffield (DRDC), collaborated with BAS for the survey over five sites identified as U.K. Specially Protected Areas on the continent. Sensors operated by ITRES and DRDC personnel were used to simultaneously map approximately 1,000 square kilometers over sites located at two different latitudes and across three strategic infrared spectral regions. The airborne acquisition was timed to coincide with in-situ ground surveys conducted by BAS and ITRES, as well as satellite data collection.

WorldView-3 to Launch Aboard Lockheed Atlas 5

Once launched, WorldView-3 will be the third WorldView-class satellite in DigitalGlobe's constellation.

DigitalGlobe announced it will launch its WorldView-3 commercial Earth-imaging satellite aboard a Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket through Denver-based Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services. Financial terms weren't disclosed. The launch is scheduled for 2014 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Lockheed Martin also will launch GeoEye-2, the next satellite from DigitalGlobe's chief competitor, GeoEye, aboard an Atlas 5.

Harris Completes Schlumberger GCS Acquisition

Harris, an international communications and information technology company, completed its previously announced acquisition of the Global Connectivity Services (GCS) business from an operating unit of Schlumberger.

Harris combined the former Schlumberger GCS business with its existing Maritime Communications Services business and the recently acquired CapRock Communications, along with infrastructure assets from Core180's government business, to form Harris CapRock Communications. The company provides managed communications services for remote and harsh environments, including those in the energy, government and maritime industries.

Solutions from the newly combined business include mission-critical communications; converged voice, video and data; reliable and secure connectivity; and rapid and mobile deployments. Harris integrates advanced technology and services to capture, aggregate, distribute and analyze any type of communications or information, including voice, video, data and imagery.

Esri Serves Libya Unrest Map

Esri is serving a Libya Unrest map application at that disseminates information being sent via Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. The social media layers allow for custom keyword searches. Streetmap, OpenStreetMap, satellite imagery and topographic maps are part of the map overlay. The public Ushadihi layer shows mapped reports. Additional map layers are added as data become available.


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