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Earth Observation/Remote Sensing Satellites


2014 – Earth Observation and Remote Sensing Overview

While communications satellites retransmit artificial signals from one part of the Earth to another, and PNT satellites simply transmit precise artificial signals to terrestrial receivers, remote sensing satellites collect naturally generated signals from the Earth’s surface, convert them to data, and send them to Earth-bound observers. Remote sensing satellites provide detailed images of the Earth and collect a wide variety of measurements from space, such as ocean temperature, vegetation coverage, or pollution levels.

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2016 – Military Reconnaissance – Snapshot

Earth observation used to be the domain of a nation’s civil agencies and military. In 2016, ## spacecraft were launched or deployed in the Earth’s orbit. More than ##, ##, of those spacecraft were launched with an Earth observation mission. Some commercial Earth observation satellites even carry infrared sensor payloads, which at one time were only found aboard the military’s…

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2016 – Meteorology – Snapshot

For all of the importance placed on meteorological satellites, they made up a very small part of the ## Earth observation/remote sensing satellites placed in Earth’s orbit during 2016. With a total of ## satellites, ## meteorological-focused satellites were launched or deployed in 2016 than in 2015, during which ## of the satellites with this core mission were deployed. The…

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2016 – Surface Imaging – Snapshot

The majority of Earth observation satellites launched in 2016 were ##. Only ## of the ## Earth observation satellites had a launch mass of ### kilograms (### pounds) or more. The number of Earth observation satellites with a mass between ## and ## kilograms (##–## pounds) launched in 2016 was ##. Together, the Earth…

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2016 – Earth Observation and Remote Sensing – Snapshot

The business of monitoring from orbit the activities and changes occurring on the Earth’s surface continued to grow in 2016. Earth observation/remote sensing satellite missions have grown to accommodate different needs. Some satellites gather weather and environmental data, while others capture…

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2005 – Whither The Remote Sensing Market Place — Dr. Ray Williamson

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.”

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2005 – Military Reconnaissance

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.

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2005 – Earth Observation and Remote Sensing Overview

Different wavelengths of light are ideal for different sensing activities. For example, radar technology, which uses microwave frequencies, can observe clouds, aerosols, volcanic plumes, sea-surface temperatures, ocean color, vegetation, land cover, snow, ice, fires, and many other phenomena. Visible light and near infrared portions of the spectrum can perceive fine detail and can be used for mineral and soil mapping, precision agriculture, and forestry.

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2007 – Military Reconnaissance

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.

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2007 – Land Imaging

Remote sensing satellites provide images of the Earth for civil, scientific, military, and intelligence applications using a number of different technologies.

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