Archive for the ‘Observation’ Category

Sochi From Space

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

The view of Sochi from the ISS, via NBC. Dayime image below…


Hiding From Satellites

Monday, November 4th, 2013

spysat

We’ve been fans of DLR’s Heavens Above site for years, a site that predicts when orbiting spacecraft are expected to be seen from Earth. Iridium flares are especially fun to predict to impress your friends.

Now we have s spacecraft prediction app of a more topical “spying” nature: SpyMeSat, a $2 app that predicts flyovers by observation satellites. Via SlashGear

SpyMeSat was created by Orbit Logic, Inc., which specializes in supplying software to the aerospace and intelligence communities. The app, which was released last week, gets its data from organizations like NORAD, but it doesn’t use any classified information. In other words, any terrorists or human rights abusers looking to hide from satellites already can access the info through other data sources. The app’s chief purpose is to gather all that data into one cheap app.

“We were careful to only include satellites that are unclassified and whose orbits are published by NORAD,” Orbit Logic president Alex Herz said. “Even the sensor data — resolution, etc. — was taken only from the websites published by the satellite operators. So everything SpyMeSat is using is open and public.”

The app is accurate to 16 meters. You can set SpyMeSat to give you alerts for any location, track satellites even when they’re not overhead, call up resolution specs for each model, and learn about their various on-board sensors. Satellite models in the database are owned and operated by either public or private bodies, including the GeoEye, France’s SPOT-5, India’s CartoSat-2A, DigitalGlobe WorldView, and RADARSAT-2 of Canada.

It may save you some embarrassment.

gmap_scary_w


All Fracked Up and No Place to Go

Friday, September 6th, 2013
bakken frackin

SkyTruth’s view of the Bakken from space. The red stuff at the upper left is rig lighting and flaring from oil and gas drillers working the Bakken Shale. The bright area on the right is the city of Minneapolis.

The folks over at SkyTruth are doing a really good job, using existing observation spacecraft and they’re ready to send up a balloon to document what other ways frackers are polluting.

I missed this coverage over the summer…

Thanks to that and lots of other people, they’ve met their funding goal on indiegogo. The project…

SkyTruth is teaming up with Space for All  for a skytruthing mission over the massive Bakken shale oil and gas fields in western North Dakota.  We’re planning to launch a sensor package from the ground to the edge of space tethered to a high altitude balloon rig, courtesy of Space for All.  We will combine on the ground observations with detections from the balloon rig and measurements we are making from space to measure the amount of natural gas flaring there.  This will help us test the accuracy of our satellite-based flaring detections so we can do a better job of monitoring and reporting on the amount of environmentally damaging (and unnecessary and wasteful) flaringthat happens in the Bakken and elsewhere in the world.  The more good data we can collect on when, where, and how much, the more we can help groups that are working to reduce and eliminate it. This is what we mean by skytruthing – using remote sensing and mapping to understand and change the world.

Read more about the Bakken and oil shale fracking in this great piece by National Geographic: The New Oil Landscape

 

Watch their video pitch…

Hat tip to Motherboard.


Delta IV Heavy: NROL-65

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Always nice to see a Delta launcher go. Extra nice to see a heavy go!

The payload is for the NRO, so we can only speculate as to what it was for. As reported by the L.A. Times

Although little is publicly known about what exactly the rocket will be carrying into space, analysts say it is probably a $1-billion high-powered spy satellite capable of snapping pictures detailed enough to distinguish the make and model of an automobile hundreds of miles below.

If this is a LEO spacecraft, it’s probably on the big side, given the Delta IV Heavy’s capability.


GOES-12: Ten Years in 3 minutes

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Great job by NOAA in putting this video together, marking the retirement of the GOES-12 spacecraft.

NOAA’s GOES-12 satellite was decommissioned on August 16th, 2013 after 3,788 days in service. From April 2003 — May 2010, GOES-12 served as GOES East, providing “eye in the sky” monitoring for such memorable events as the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and the series of blizzards during the winter of 2009-2010. After suffering thruster control issues, GOES-12 was taken out of normal service and moved to provide greater coverage of the Southern Hemisphere as the first-ever GOES South. During that time it provided enhanced severe weather monitoring for South America.

This animation shows one image from each day of the satellite’s life — a total of 3,641 full disk visible images.


Blowing Aladin

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Instruments on the ground or attached to weather balloons give us wind velocity measurements, helping us predict weather changes and forecasting. And they do a pretty good job with it. Anybody with a radio, TV or Internet device can avail themselves of the weather forecast. Or a newspaper. Remember those?

Although I appreciate being able to know what the weather will be like after tomorrow or next week, I long for the days when we would simply look toward the sky, feel the wind and/or humidity and make an experienced guess on the next day’s weather. Winds from the south and we’ll get rain. Chilly wind from the northwest indicates a change toward colder days ahead.

If the wind makes a difference on the ground, think about what it would mean if we were able to use an instrument in space. Enter the ESA’s Aeolus mission, which includes the Aladin UV laser instrument.

The Aeolus satellite will carry a single, but complex, instrument that will probe the atmosphere to profile the world’s winds. Reliable and timely wind profiles are urgently needed by meteorologists to improve weather forecasts. In the long term, they will also contribute to climate research.

Aeolus carries a pioneering instrument called Aladin that uses laser light scattering and the Doppler effect to gather data on wind.

The laser generates high-energy UV light, which is beamed towards Earth through a telescope. As the light travels down through the atmosphere, it bounces off molecules of gas, particles of dust and droplets of water.

By comparing the shift in frequency of the received light from the transmitted light caused by the Doppler effect, the motion of the molecules in the atmosphere can be measured, revealing wind velocity.

The laser transmitter is being developed by Selex-ES in Italy.

It has been a very long and difficult undertaking – forging new technologies in many areas such as optics, opto-electronics, precision mechanics and thermo-mechanical design.

Recent tests show all this effort has not been in vain.

Throughout three consecutive weeks, the laser transmitter remained perfectly stable at full energy, producing a total of 90 million UV laser shots.

Considering that each shot is 5 MW, peaking at an intensity similar to that of a lightning strike and that this is repeated 50 times a second – the stress on the optical components that shape and guide the laser beam is tremendous.

Predicting weather and climate changes using a space-based UV laser. Cool.


Secret Hexagon Rescue Mission

Friday, August 17th, 2012

It still amazes me how many resources went into spy satellites in the 60′s and 70′s. Designing, building, launching and operating — all under super-secret conditions — using transistor radio era technology must have been mind-boggling for the non-scientists. And film. They used film to get the images they needed. And how did they get the film back to earth? Why, drop the huge canister in the ocean, of course!

Recent news about the declassification of rescue mission in 1972 to retrieve a canister that dropped into the ocean without a parachute. Imagine that: the rescue mission was classified!

High Tech Finds The Old Tech

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

None of us have on this planet long enough to remember a house or dwelling being reduced to a dirt mound. You rely on your forebears to pass along knowledge of what used to be where, and you might find it. What happens once it’s forgotten? Could be lost forever.

Satellites to the rescue!

Enter Bjoern H. Menzea of Harvard and Jason A. Ura of MIT, an anthropologist and computer scientist, respectively, who have collaborated on “Mapping patterns of long-term settlement in Northern Mesopotamia at a large scale,” published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Using satellite images, they’ve uncovered thousands of previously-unknown settlements. Here’s the abstract:

The landscapes of the Near East show both the first settlements and the longest trajectories of settlement systems. Mounding is a characteristic property of these settlement sites, resulting from millennia of continuing settlement activity at distinguished places. So far, however, this defining feature of ancient settlements has not received much attention, or even been the subject of systematic evaluation. We propose a remote sensing approach for comprehensively mapping the pattern of human settlement at large scale and establish the largest archaeological record for a landscape in Mesopotamia, mapping about 14,000 settlement sites—spanning eight millennia—at 15-m resolution in a 23,000-km2 area in northeastern Syria. To map both low- and high-mounded places—the latter of which are often referred to as “tells”—we develop a strategy for detecting anthrosols in time series of multispectral satellite images and measure the volume of settlement sites in a digital elevation model. Using this volume as a proxy to continued occupation, we find a dependency of the long-term attractiveness of a site on local water availability, but also a strong relation to the relevance within a basin-wide exchange network that we can infer from our record and third millennium B.C. intersite routes visible on the ground until recent times. We believe it is possible to establish a nearly comprehensive map of human settlements in the fluvial plains of northern Mesopotamia and beyond, and site volume may be a key quantity to uncover long-term trends in human settlement activity from such a record.

That’s pretty awesome work. New science is magic!


WBMSAT Satellite Industry News Bits 02/18/2012

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Falcone’s telecom troubles mount, as the Harbinger Fund investments in LightSquared jeopardize investors’ value and a group of investors sues in federal court.
[Wall Street Journal - 02/18/2012]

Latest Pentagon spending plans scale back push to use commercial satellites to supplement the military’s communication and space efforts.
[Wall Street Journal - 02/17/2012]

Second attempt to launch Atlas V rocket with first MUOS satellite is scrubbed due to weather conditions.
[Central Florida News - 02/17/2012]

U.S. bankruptcy court approves TerreStar reorganization plan; Dish Network prepared to close previously approved acquisitions of TerreStar and DBSD upon FCC approval of license transfers.
[Satellite Today - 02/17/2012]

Eutelsat and ViaSat receive Industry Innovators Awards from the Society of Satellite Professionals International for development and launch of their High Throughput broadband Satellites, KA-SAT and ViaSat-1.
[Sacramento Bee - 02/17/2012]

General Dynamics demonstrates first MUOS satellite-based communications on JTRS HMS Radio.
[Market Watch - 02/17/2012]

NSR free webinar coming February 22 – Military budget cuts and troop drawdowns: What’s the impact on commercial satcoms?
[NSR - 02/17/2012]

NASA selects 33 small “cubesat” satellites to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard rockets.
[SatNews - 02/17/2012]

Global Satellite USA launches Iridium Pilot, Iridium’s second-generation maritime broadband platform.
[SatNews 02/17/2012]

Satlink expands the reach of God’s Leaning Channel into Asia on the ABS1 satellite at 75 degrees East.
[SatNews - 02/17/2012]

United States, in review of future satellite needs, examines opportunities to increase international collaboration and orders from commercial providers, U.S. Air Force official says.
[Fox Business - 02/16/2012]

SES-4 successfully performs post-launch maneuvers.
[Market Watch - 02/16/2012]

Media Networks Latin American signs long-term capacity deal with SES fior multiple transponders on AMC-4 to launch new DTH wholesale pay TV service.
[SatNews - 02/16/2012]

LightSquared may be looking to Department of Defense to save its LTE network; FCC still believes satellite spectrum can be used for wireless buildout but will tread more carefully next time.
[Washington Post - 02/16/2012]

Avanti partner STM buys Ka band capacity on HYLAS 1 to enable launch of Enterprise services in Spain.
[Proactive Investors - 02/15/2012]

Comtech EF Data wins Industry Innovators Award from Society of Satellite Professionals International for MetaCarrier technology that adds carrier ID information to a reference carrier using spread spectrum technology.
[Market Watch - 02/15/2012]

Officials eye changes to GPS receivers, but move comes too late for LightSquared.
[Nextgov - 02/15/2012]

NSR reports that FCC statement all but negates years of work from both the FCC and the mobile satellite industry.
[SatNews - 02/15/2012]

Swiss to build clean-up satellites to attack the space junk issue.
[R&D Magazine - 02/15/2012]

ORBIT Communication Systems and Milano Teleport receive orders for complete C-band VSAT solution for supertankers of one of worlds leading shipping companies based in Greece.
[SatNews - 02/15/2012]

Newly announced Intellian t80W maritime satellite TV antenna system uses WorldView LNB that automatically switches polarization and frequency according to satellite tracking onto, and satellite control system intelligence and dual antenna system that allows seamless reception of TV programs on a global basis.
[SatNews - 02/15/2012]

Harris CapRock Communications signs contract to provide telecommunications systems and infrastructure for Chevron’s Big Foot platform project in the Gulf of Mexico.
[SatNews - 02/15/2012]

IO Sat one of first customers providing services on Spacecom’s AMOS-5 satellite.
[SatNews - 02/15/2012]

NASA budget request includes funding for again launching astronauts, further exploration into space, and continuing research, providing jobs and technology that will boost the economy.
[SatNews - 02/13/2012]

Google applies for FCC licenses for “antenna farm” in Kansas that hint at possible super head-end for capturing satellite television signals for over-fiber distribution.
[Kansas City Star - 02/14/2012]

FCC bars use of satellite spectrum terrestrially for broadband networks, sending LightSquared back to Square One.
[New York Times - 02/14/2012]

Gilat develops customized solution for O3b Networks’ satellite network.
[Globes - 02/14/2012]

Xplornet Communications’ 4G broadband satellite service on ViaSat-1 goes live over Canada.
[Digital Journal - 02/14/2012]

Global Telesat Corp. launches E-Commerce mobile satellite solutions portal on worldwide web.
[Market Watch - 02/14/2012]

ORBIT awarded services contract from U.S. Air Force to install service communication management systems on KC-135 Stratotankers.
[Market Watch - 02/14/2012]

UtiliSat to offer end-to-end managed network services to U.S. government agencies under new GSA custom SATCOM solutions small business contract.
[Market Watch - 02/14/2012]

FAB Express Trucking selects VeriWise(TM) satellite tracking systems to manage dry van fleet.
[Market Watch - 02/14/2012]

Obama budget targets LightSquared.
[Nextgov - 02/13/2011]

YAHSAT begins transmission of High TV 3D.
[Satellite Today - 02/13/2012]

ViaSat phases out WildBlue brand for new Exede service on ViaSat 1.
[Satellite Today - 02/13/2012]

Spectacular view from International Space Station includes lights of hundreds of cities plus massive Aurora Borealis on the horizon.
[SatNews - 02/13/2012]

WBMSAT satellite communications consulting services

 


Tanks! Thanks to DigitalGlobe

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Our friends at DigitalGlobe Inc., providers of satellite imagery via the Worldview spacecraft, have released photos of Syrian tanks surrounding residential neighborhoods. Via WaPo

Stephen Wood, director of DigitalGlobe’s analysis center, said the photos show tanks, armored personnel carriers and other armored vehicles in the southern part of the city, some of them near apartment buildings.

The satellite images show an increase in the level of army activity in and around Homs from the previous 24 hours, Wood said.

Fighting in Homs has reportedly killed hundreds of people over the past week from bombardments followed by soldiers’ advances. The battle there is part of the Syrian government’s attempts to suppress an 11-month-old uprising against the rule of President Bashar Assad.

Wood said no battle damage was visible in the photos taken Friday, but previous images captured by the company’s satellites did show the effects of fighting.

And this report from Al Jazeera furthers the news…

Good job getting the images out. It’s good for business, especially if you consider there’s growth in the earth observation sector, according to Euroconsult.

Check out their Flickr photostream. Very cool.