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eNewsletter December 2007

SAR Satellite Deployment Expands Canadian Space Agency Capabilities

MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) announced the successful launch and deployment of RADARSAT-2, Canada's next-generation commercial Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite, on December 14, 2007. The satellite was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a Soyuz launch vehicle.

Artist’s rendering of RADARSAT-2 imaging state. Artist’s rendering of RADARSAT-2 imaging state. Several imaging modes are available with RADARSAT-2 (incidence angles, resolution and polarization).

RADARSAT-2 guarantees data continuity for RADARSAT-1 users and offers new capabilities, including a finer resolution, flexibility in polarization selection, and left- and right-looking imaging.

These new capabilities, in concert with increased on-time imaging capacity and an enhanced ground segment, enable increased flexibility in choice of products and service offerings.

RADARSAT-2 will be able to switch from right- to left-looking mode. This process will take about 10 minutes. About 75 percent of imaging will be performed in right-looking mode. The left-looking mode will be used for Antarctic mapping, emergency situations and improved market access.

Enhanced information will also be provided for applications such as environmental monitoring, ice mapping, resource mapping, disaster management and marine surveillance, in part due to the unique SAR capabilities of imaging during day or night, and through clouds, rain, snow, dust or haze.

RADARSAT-2 is the product of a partnership between the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and MDA. MDA is responsible for the marketing and distribution of the data via a global network of partners and ground receiving stations. "We are extremely excited to welcome this new chapter in SAR imaging," said John Hornsby, General Manager for MDA's Geospatial Services business area. Dr. Hornsby continued, "RADARSAT-2 promises to deliver products with higher resolution and information content and with a significantly shorter end-to-end ‘order to delivery' process." www.radarsat2.info


Opticks Open Source Software Release

Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. recently launched Opticks, an open source software project for detailed analysis of remote sensing data.Opticks is used by analysts and scientists within the Department of Defense intelligence community to analyze remote sensing data and to produce actionable intelligence.

Opticks could lead to improved features in existing remote sensing software, broader access to new markets that will benefit from remote sensing data, and increased demand for such data. The software supports Imagery, Motion Imagery, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), and multi- and hyper-spectral remote sensing data, and also enables software developers to easily extend or tailor the product's capabilities to support new types of remote sensing data. The launch of Opticks establishes an open source community for support and collaborative development.

"Ball Aerospace's Opticks demonstrates how government-sponsored code originally developed by a contractor can be maximized by releasing it as open source," said John M. Weathersby, executive director of the Open-Source Software Institute. "This creative business development effort is consistent with the forward-thinking strategy outlined in the Department of Defense's Open Technology Development roadmap."

Ball Aerospace supports exploitation of remote sensing data for the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and supports critical missions for the Department of Defense, NASA, NOAA and other U.S. government and commercial entities.

Download Opticks at www.ballforge.net to join the open source community.

Possible Satellite Collision Avoided

Outer space seems to be vast and mostly empty, with collisions between working satellites only a remote possibility. Yet it now appears that traffic in certain orbits has reached the point where constant vigilance is necessary to avoid collisions. Case in point: On July 4, 2007, NASA found it prudent to move the NASA-Canadian CloudSat satellite in order to avoid a possible collision with the Iranian SINAH-1 remote sensing satellite. The maneuver reduced the risk of collision.

CloudSat, launched in April 2006, is an experimental satellite devoted to providing, among other things, new data about the relationship of clouds to storms using advanced radar. These data will be especially useful in understanding the dynamics of clouds that produce large amounts of rainfall.

A few days after the collision-avoidance maneuver, NASA moved CloudSat back into its earlier orbit in order to synchronize its orbit with the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder (CALIPSO) satellite. CALIPSO, a joint project between NASA and the French Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) carries three major instruments to probe the vertical structure and properties of thin clouds and aerosols over the globe – an active lidar instrument, and both passive infrared and visible imagers. The two satellites together provide "new, never-before-seen 3-D perspectives of how clouds and aerosols form, evolve, and affect weather and climate." Both CloudSat and CALIPSO fly in formation with three other satellites in the "A-Train Formation" in the crowded low Earth orbit.


Intermap Technologies Signs Agreement with Magellan

Intermap Technologies will provide digital mapping data with its AccuTerra map content products for Magellan's line of handheld GPS devices. These GPS devices will provide users with outdoor specific map data for the contiguous 48 states and Hawaii.

Intermap is creating consumer mapping products using Magellan's Solution Developer Kit (MSDK) MapCreator software. MSDK is a 3rd party development toolkit that enables licensees to develop world class mapping products and software enhancement to enhance Magellan's GPS product line offerings. MSDK-derived content products are compatible with both GPS devices and VantagePoint desktop software.

"This agreement with Intermap is important to outdoor enthusiasts because the content that Intermap is building is perfectly suited to the new generation of GPS products and our customers' needs for even more accurate off-road data," said Christian Bubenheim, Magellan's Vice President of product marketing. www.intermap.com

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