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.
LEO spacecraft are also used to provide images of the Earth for civil, scientific, and military applications. In 2008 the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing reported that there were ## satellites in use or in development for this purpose, operated by ## different countries. The U.S. has been the leader in the commercialization of electro-optical remote sensing technology, but recent years have seen other countries begin to excel in the development of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems.