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UK-DMC2 satellite delivers first images just one week after launch

11 August 2009


Just over one week after the launch of the UK-DMC2 satellite on 29th July, the first full resolution commercial grade image has been acquired and processed. This first image shows the states of Texas and Oklahoma, USA. The DMC satellites are specifically designed to image very large areas with rapid response and at regular intervals, as shown in this first multi-state image. The new satellites can image much larger areas in a single pass than the previous DMC satellites due to advances in on-board storage and high speed satellite downlinks to the Earth.

The quality of images acquired by the two new DMC satellites (UK-DMC2 and Deimos-1) is a significant improvement over those possible using the previous DMC satellites. The increased detail can be seen in a small section taken from the main wide area image, showing the runways and taxiways of Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. This is made possible by new sensors that detect twice the number of pixels per hectare to give a pixel size of 22 metres compared to 32m in the earlier satellites. Advances in optics and sensor technology have also made the images sharper and increased the depth of information.

SSTL mission control in Guildford, UK established communication with UK-DMC2 during its first pass, less than 2 hours after the satellite’s launch from Baikonur. In-orbit tests commenced immediately as each of the operating systems were activated, including the deployment of UK-DMC2’s additional solar panel. Within just one week, all the primary avionics systems have been commissioned and the first commercial grade 22m image acquired.

SSTL’s Executive Chairman, Sir Martin Sweeting, commented: "Acquiring UK-DMC2’s first image just a week after launch is outstanding and a credit to the 300 people at SSTL, each of whom is dedicated to securing mission success. We employ the most experienced team of small satellite engineers and operators in the world, which has enabled us to grow our business worldwide."

UK-DMC2 was built in just 18 months from mission concept to a fully tested spacecraft ready for launch.

Spanish company Deimos Space has also announced the first image from its Deimos-1 spacecraft which was launched together with UK-DMC2. Both satellites were built by SSTL and will join the international DMC constellation to contribute image to disaster relief and commercial imaging campaigns, which are coordinated by SSTL’s subsidiary DMCii.

Paul Stephens, DMCii Sales and Marketing Director, commented: "In modern times it is important that satellites provide an immediate return on investment, and to have acquired and processed commercial grade imagery from both our new satellites just a week after launch is an excellent result. These latest DMC satellites are able to provide continuous high resolution imaging of very large areas in one pass, and deliver crisper 20 metre-class imagery with a wide 600 km swath to build on the daily imaging capability established by the first generation 30 metre resolution DMC satellites."

Over the coming weeks the imaging systems onboard UK-DMC2 and Deimos-1 will be fully tested and characterised to validate their capabilities. The new data is already in demand for deforestation monitoring and precision agriculture campaigns and is expected to begin contributing to these commercial campaigns and disaster relief operations as soon as the imaging systems are fully commissioned.

The owners of UK-DMC2 and Deimos-1 have also agreed to donate a proportion of their imagery to international environmental research chosen by a panel of leading scientists.


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