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SSTL's DMC Constellation demonstrates 1-metre capability

17 September 2015

The first 1-metre high resolution optical satellite imagery from Surrey Satellite Technology's DMC3/TripleSat Constellation satellites has been released.

Sydney airport - image captured by the DMC3/TripleSat Constellation satellites (courtsey of SSTL/21AT)

This follows the successful launch of the three Earth Observation mini-satellites on an Indian PSLV in July and in-orbit commissioning and calibration by engineers from Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL).  

The very high resolution imager on board the satellites provides 1-metre native ground sampling distance (GSD) in panchromatic mode and 4-metre GSD in multispectral mode with a swath width of 24km.

Sir Martin Sweeting, SSTL’s founder and Chief Executive, welcomed a comment from Dave Parker, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, who said “Congratulations to SSTL on the acquisition of these one metre resolution images of our planet from the DMC3 constellation - a real demonstration of technical precision. SSTL's expertise in small satellites plays a major role in the space sector's £3.6bn contribution to the UK economy through exports.”

The Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology Company Ltd (21AT), a commercial Earth observation satellite operator based in Beijing, has bought 100 percent of the imaging capacity of the three satellites for 7 years to provide their satellite data services from the TripleSat Constellation. 21AT will also create new applications for customers and business opportunities for worldwide partners through its operational information services powered by the TripleSat Constellation.

The wide swath width of the imagers combined with agile off-pointing will enable the TripleSat Constellation to target anywhere on Earth at least once per day and provides the best combination of spatial resolution and time resolution – aiming at stimulating operational monitoring applications, such as urban planning and intelligent management, based on changes detected by timely regular, cloud-free, very high-resolution imagery.

A view of the city of Athens - image captured by the DMC3/TripleSat Constellation satellites (courtsey of SSTL/21AT)

The DMC3 satellites were placed into a 651km sun-synchronous Low Earth Orbit by a PSLV-XL launch vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota launch site in India on July 10 2015. The launch was provided by ANTRIX and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The DMC3 satellites in the TripleSat Constellation are phased 120 degrees apart around the same orbit using their on-board propulsion systems. 21AT has contracted SSTL to provide satellite platform services for the Constellation in orbit.

The DMC3/TripleSat Constellation satellites use the 450kg SSTL-300S1 series platform, which provides 45 degree fast slew off-pointing and is capable of acquiring multiple targets in one pass using multiple viewing modes.

SSTL has already manufactured a fourth SSTL-S1 Earth Observation satellite for another customer and has a production line ready to deliver further satellites of this type. In agreement with 21AT, future satellites may have the opportunity to join the TripleSat Constellation.


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