Infrastructure

Earth Observation/Remote Sensing Satellites


2017 – Earth Observation and Remote Sensing – Snapshot

Earth observation (EO) and remote sensing (RS) continued to be the dominant mission type among spacecraft deployed in 2017. Of 443 spacecraft deployed during the year, 232 (52%) were for EO/RS missions. While the share of spacecraft is a slight decrease from . . .

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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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2015 – Earth Observation and Remote Sensing – Snapshot

Learning about the Earth, its climate, and the impacts of human activities upon it continued to drive launches of Earth observation and remote sensing satellites in 2015. Earth observation/remote sensing satellites accounted for 40% of all spacecraft launched or deployed during 2015.

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2015 – Military Reconnaissance – Snapshot

The inherent security requirements of military operations make it very difficult to pinpoint the exact number and nature of reconnaissance satellites launched by nations. The space-based inventory of a nation’s intelligence collection can run through many different disciplines from imagery intelligence (IMINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), and measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT).

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2015 – Surface Imaging – Snapshot

The number of surface imaging satellites launched continued to grow in 2015. The sub-category dominated the greater category of Earth observation and remote sensing satellites launched in 2015, taking a nearly 72% share. The majority of surface imaging satellites literally provide a picture of Earth, and changes upon its surface, at any given time, using electronic and optical imaging payloads.

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2015 – Meteorology – Snapshot

Weather and environmental satellites help humans understand and predict the atmospheric conditions of the Earth. National governments traditionally run these constellations, providing data for weather forecasting, climate modeling, and more. Weather agencies also provide data about life-threatening storms to other nations, increasing the ability of those nations to evacuate areas predicted to be hit by the storms. Slightly less than 4% of all spacecraft launched in 2015 had a meteorological or environmental mission.

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2014 – Military Reconnaissance

While many remote-sensing and Earth observation satellites can be used for reconnaissance or other types of intelligence-gathering, military-specific and government-run satellites and sensor payloads are guided by very different mission requirements and laws than their commercial counterparts. There are several intelligence disciplines, or INTs, in which reconnaissance satellites are used to gain information: imagery intelligence (IMINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), and measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT).

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