HR Geostationary Imaging

In the last post I briefly touched on Disaster Monitoring Constellation (s): a system of satellites that provide high temporal resolution data for environmental monitoring. It turns out that Astrium, the European space giant, is touting a  high resolution (HR) geostationary, dubbed HR Geo, satellite called the Geostationary Orbit Space Surveillance System, GO-3S. The system will feature spatial resolutions on metre scales with a very high “refresh rate”, what they are calling video from space. Not surprisingly, Astrium are calling GO-3S a flagship innovation project.

This reminded me of an Invitation to Tender (ITT) i saw on EMITS, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) ITT system. Unfortunately I can’t find it at the moment. However, I did find an ESA press release about their HR geostationary user consultation workshop in 2010 (the presentations are online here). ESA has indeed set it’s sights high. Having established a user need, and an engineering challenge, ESA are providing leadership in  a crucial future technology. One can ask if Astrium are targeting this future market; trying to get their foot in the door early.

Regardless of Astrium’s engagement in HR Geo, think of the possibilities. Real disaster monitoring capabilities: near real time, very high temporal resolution HR data. Even panchromatic data would be awesome, but HR Geo multi-spectral would be beyond awesome. It’d revolutionise Earth Observation. Landsat type missions would become redundant (Landsat Data Continuity Mission, Sentinel-2, SPOT). Three or four satellites could provide global coverage. Vegetation monitoring would be hyper-temporal; classification algorithms would be adapted to cope with growing season characteristics for example; Glacier dynamics would be monitored using feature tracking with much better confidence using temporal averaging; flooding, wildfires, oil spills and other hazards could be monitored in near real time, greatly improving our ability to assess threats, a coordinate responses.

Just think about the potential!  Fingers crossed for a HR Geo system in the near future.

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