Earth Observation/Remote Sensing Satellites
In 2008, there were ## remote sensing satellites launched on behalf of ## countries. Of particular note, in August, the German RapidEye constellation of ## remote sensing satellites was launched. The ## RapidEye satellites travel along the same orbital plane and feature identical sensors, allowing large amounts of imagery to be collected, up to ## million square kilometers (## million square miles) per day. ## satellites in the same orbital plane allow for a higher number of multiple imaging passes over the same spot and quick revisit times. With these capabilities, the RapidEye constellation is capable of imaging any point on Earth every day.
AGI designates remote sensing satellites as surveillance/military satellites. Exhibit 3p (below) provides the number of these satellites by country. AGI reports ## active U.S. surveillance/military satellites that it designates as having “unavailable” orbital parameters. In addition, the line between some remote sensing and Earth science satellite classifications is not always clear-cut.
Remote sensing satellites provide images of the Earth for civil, scientific, military, and intelligence applications using a number of different technologies.
From Sidebar — “Satellite imagery sales were helped along by increasing tensions in Afghanistan and then Iraq. In time, foreign purchases and major contracts for data (ClearView and NextView) from the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) brought growth and a measure of stability to the data market. The acquisition of Space Imaging by ORBIMAGE [now known as GeoEye] has also further stabilized the industry.”
The DoD and national security agencies could also use a variety of Earth observation satellites, like Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) under development, Fast On-orbit Recording of Transient Events (FORTÉ), and the Multispectral Thermal Imager (MTI) that provide intelligence through a variety of sensors, including multi-spectral imagery, thermal images and event classification, radio burst detectors, and radar imaging.