A British minisatellite, UoSAT-12, built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), has imaged a cloudless Lunar eclipse from a 650km low Earth orbit.
Surrey engineers, working from Mission Control at the Surrey Space Centre, pointed the small satellite's multispectral camera - normally pointing Earthwards - to the Moon in order to capture last night's eclipse from space.
The image, taken at 1920 hrs GMT, was actually 40 minutes before total eclipse.
Surrey's remote sensing cameras are returning remarkable images of the Earth's surface - in LANDSAT-compatible bands. Whereas conventional Earth observation and remote sensing satellite missions are extremely costly - typically in excess of £150M each - Surrey's minisatellite mission was developed for less than £6M.
To meet this demanding budget, Surrey's engineers designed their remote sensing cameras using commercial off-the-shelf components, such as standard camera lenses and digital-camera imaging electronics.
Surrey's unique approach contrasts starkly with the traditional space engineering technique of having all components custom made for space use. Yet the results of Surrey's space missions compare favourably with their high-cost cousins.
This lunar eclipse image is just the latest in a series of stunning results from Surrey's UoSAT-12 minisatellite, launched April 1999. Engineers turned the satellite toward the moon to demonstrate it's agility and the sensitivity of it's on-board control and imaging systems.
The technology demonstrated by this manoeuvre will be used by Surrey in several upcoming commercial satellite missions, including two under development for the British National Space Centre's MOSAIC programme.
Surrey Satellite Technology
UoSAT-12 Mission Page
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UK MicroSat Launched By Russian ICBM
Guildford - April 22, 1999
The world's first commercial satellite launch from an SS18, once the world's most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), took place Wednesday from Kazakhstan. Surrey's latest research and development minisatellite, UoSAT-12, was launched into a 650 km 65 degree low Earth orbit from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 0600 BST (0500 GMT) onboard Dnepr, a de-militarised SS18.
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