Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space News .




EARTH OBSERVATION
Largest Flock of Earth-Imaging Satellites Launch into Orbit From ISS
by Laura Niles for ISS Science News
Houston TX (SPX) Feb 12, 2014


The 28 Dove satellites that make up Planet Labs' Flock 1 mission, seen here before delivery to the International Space Station, will be the largest single constellation of Earth-imaging satellites ever to launch into space. Image courtesy Planet Labs.

It is often said that if everyone had the opportunity to see Earth from the perspective of astronauts in space, respect and admiration for our planet would grow and the environment would be better protected.

A new fleet of 28 small satellites, called Flock 1, may help provide this perspective to people like never before. Considered the largest single constellation of Earth-imaging satellites ever to launch into space, the Flock 1 satellites began deploying today from the International Space Station.

Built and operated by Planet Labs of San Francisco, the Flock 1 small satellites are individually referred to as Doves. The Dove satellites are part of a class of miniature satellites often called CubeSats.

These small satellites will capture imagery of Earth for use in humanitarian, environmental and commercial applications. Data collected by the Flock 1 constellation will be universally accessible to anyone who wishes to use it.

"We believe that the democratization of information about a changing planet is the mission that we are focused on, and that, in and of itself, is going to be quite valuable for the planet," says Robbie Schingler, co-founder of Planet Labs.

"One tenet that we have is to make sure that we produce more value than we actually capture, so we have an open principle within the company with respect to anyone getting access to the data."

The Dove CubeSats use an automated approach where the spacecraft take pictures over various areas, store them, and transmit them when positioned over a ground station. Planet Labs then processes the imagery and uploads it online for anyone to access it.

The Flock 1 constellation of satellites may also be used in concert with high-resolution assets like unmanned aerial vehicles and large imaging satellites in order to follow-up on an identified area and gather more imagery in greater detail.

Imagery from Flock 1 enables identification of areas for disaster relief and improved agricultural yields in developing countries around the globe. Users also can apply this imagery resource to global environmental protection measures, such as monitoring deforestation and changes to polar ice caps.

"Our company goal is to image everywhere very frequently, for everyone," explains Schingler.

"If you image everywhere, then that actually means that you can image anywhere. That's going to be quite transformative for a number of countries, for a number of companies, and so forth. Our monitoring capability is always on. We are always taking a picture."

Commercial applications of the imagery include mapping, real estate and construction, and oil and gas monitoring. If a company has high-value, distributed assets that need regular monitoring, Flock 1 imagery can assist in this type of endeavor.

For example, Flock 1 can supplement or replace the need for flying a helicopter over an oil pipeline to monitor for a leak, since the 28 Dove CubeSats can quickly collect the necessary imagery.

The revisit rate, or frequency with which Dove CubeSats pass over a given area, is currently unprecedented among existing satellite systems in orbit. Imagery will be collected at latitudes within 52 degrees of the equator, which encompass expanses north and south of the equator that cover the majority of the world's populated areas and agricultural regions.

The Flock 1 constellation will travel in a lower orbit than most satellites, at a distance between 240 and 400 miles above Earth. For comparison, weather and commercial communications satellites are often given geostationary orbits, which are circular orbits above the Earth's equator at a distance of approximately 22,236 miles above Earth.

The Flock 1 constellation will deploy from the space station using the NanoRacks Smallsat Deployment Program to launch from the station's Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) airlock. The NanoRacks deployer provides commercial access to space, via the space station, for CubeSats to perform Earth and deep space observation. View the illustrated simulation by NanoRacks to see how these small satellites are deployed into space.

Previous launches of similar CubeSat hardware by Planet Labs served as an extension of their laboratory and optimized the software and hardware to prepare the Dove CubeSats for success. Software for all satellites in the Flock 1 constellation can be reprogrammed very quickly while in orbit.

"Our ability to build and operate spacecraft will allow us to do more with these spacecraft in the future as we begin to think about the satellite segment as a very remote server with a whole bunch of sensors on board that could be reprogrammed to do other things," says Schingler.

With the existing infrastructure provided by the space station and the various spacecraft that service it, companies like Planet Labs are gaining consistent access to space.

Commercial opportunities for CubeSats and other research on and off the space station exist through a public-private partnership enabled by congress in which the station serves as a National Laboratory.

The National Laboratory, managed by the Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), provides funding avenues for programs like the NanoRacks Smallsat Deployment Program to open up research and exploration in space for many more users.

"The deployment of 28 satellites all at once is going to be the largest deployment of a single constellation of satellites that works together at one time and the largest Earth-observation constellation of satellites ever," says Schingler.

"This is possible because we are able to get to space via the space station."

CubeSats like the Doves in the Flock 1 constellation are just the tip of the iceberg. As new CubeSats deploy, more data is gathered, systems are optimized and, eventually, new types of spacecraft are developed based on their predecessors in space.

The space station allows for the expansion of commercial ventures in low-Earth orbit. The Earth-imaging mission of Planet Labs' Flock 1 takes another leap toward creating benefits on Earth resulting from innovation in space.

.


Related Links
Planet Labs
Earth Observation News - Suppiliers, Technology and Application






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





EARTH OBSERVATION
AGU and Wiley Launch Open Access Journal, Earth and Space Science
Hoboken, NJ (SPX) Feb 10, 2014
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) and John Wiley and Sons have announced the creation of a new all open access peer-reviewed journal, Earth and Space Science. Marking AGU's second new open access journal in the last 12 months, Earth Space and Science is the only journal that reflects the expansive range of science represented by AGU's 62,000 members, including all of the Earth, planetar ... read more


EARTH OBSERVATION
Source of 'Moon Curse' Revealed by Eclipse

NASA bets on private companies to exploit moon's resources

Astrobotic Begins Testing at Masten Space Systems

NASA Extends Moon Exploring Satellite Mission

EARTH OBSERVATION
ASU Mars camera to get new views of Red Planet

Russian-European spacecraft to go on Martian mission in Jan 2016

Flowing Water on Mars Appears Likely But Hard to Prove

NASA Mars Orbiters See Clues to Possible Water Flows

EARTH OBSERVATION
Tech products can turn uncool when they become too popular

Hollande on Silicon Valley charm offensive

Is it time to lift alcohol ban in space?

Google wins contract to take over historic NASA-owned airfield

EARTH OBSERVATION
China's Jade Rabbit rover comes 'back to life'

Yutu Awakes

Moon plays trick on Jade Rabbit

Waiting for Yutu

EARTH OBSERVATION
Andrews Space Cargo Module Power Unit Provides Power For Payloads Bound For ISS

Russian Progress M-22M docks with ISS following fast rendezvous

Russian Resupply Spacecraft Begins Expedited Flight to Station

NASA Selects Physical Science Research Proposals for the ISS

EARTH OBSERVATION
Russia-Kazakhstan Working Group to Report on Proton Launches

Russian Telecoms Satellites Readied for March Launch

Ariane 5's heavy-lift mission is an on the numbers launch success

Antrix to launch UK and Singapore satellite using India's Polar Satellite Launcher

EARTH OBSERVATION
Kepler Finds a Very Wobbly Planet

One planet, two stars: new research shows how circumbinary planets form

First Weather Map of Brown Dwarf

NASA-Sponsored 'Disk Detective' Lets Public Search for New Planetary Nurseries

EARTH OBSERVATION
Hand-held scanner used to make 3-D maps of crime scenes

Physicists produce a potentially revolutionary material

It's alive! Bacteria-filled liquid crystals could improve biosensing

Carbon dioxide from exhaust fumes used to make new chemicals




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.