Canada's RADARSAT-1 satellite had problems in late March and has been declared no longer operational earlier this month by the Canadian Space Agency. Continuity was planned with RADARSAT-2 which started providing imagery in early 2008 and RADARSAT-C slated for orbit in 2018.
From the press release: "During its 90,828 orbits around the earth it provided 625,848 images to more than 600 clients and partners in Canada and 60 countries worldwide. It assisted with information gathering during 244 disaster events and literally mapped the world, providing complete coverage of the World's continents, continental shelves and polar icecaps. Among its many accomplishments, RADARSAT-1 conducted Antarctic Mapping Missions (AMM) in 1999 and 2000 and delivered the first-ever, unprecedented high-resolution maps of the entire frozen continent. It also delivered the first stereo-radar coverage of the planet's landmass, the first high-resolution interferometric coverage of Canada, and produced complete single season snapshots of all the continents."
From NASA: "Turning on new satellite instruments is like opening new eyes. This week, the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) released its first images of Earth, collected at 1:40 p.m. EDT on March 18. [...] LDCM sees eleven bands within the electromagnetic spectrum, the range of wavelengths of light. OLI collects light reflected from Earth's surface in nine of these bands. Wavelengths on the shorter side include the visible blue, green, and red bands. Wavelengths on the longer side include the near infrared and shortwave infrared. LDCM's second instrument, the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) detects light emitted from the surface in two even longer wavelengths called the thermal infrared. [...] LDCM's normal operations are scheduled to begin in late May when the instruments have been calibrated and the spacecraft has been fully checked out."
I'm currently abroad but wanted to share the good news that Landsat 8 Satellite Successfully Launches Into Orbit.
The Slashdot summary: ""The Landsat Data Continuity Mission is now in orbit, after launching Monday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Calif. After about three months of testing, the U.S. Geological Survey will take control and the mission, renamed Landsat 8, will extend more than 40 years of global land observations critical to energy and water management, forest monitoring, human and environmental health, urban planning, disaster recovery, and agriculture." We still need more new observation satellites to avoid losing Earth observing capabilities as the work horses of the NASA/USGS fleet die of old age."
Drones are a great way to do cheap remote sensing, but regulations are becoming more severe, Slashdot discusses a story named First City In the US To Pass an Anti-Drone Resolution.
Their summary: "According to an Al-Jazeera report, 'Charlottesville, Virginia is the first city in the United States to pass an anti-drone resolution. The writing of the resolution coincides with a leaked memo outlining the legal case for drone strikes on U.S. citizens [on foreign soil] and a Federal Aviation Administration plan to allow the deployment of some 30,000 domestic drones.' The finalized resolution is fairly weak, but it's a start. There is also some anti-drone legislation in the Oregon state Senate, and it has much bigger teeth. It defines public airspace as anything above your shoelaces, and the wording for 'drone' is broad enough to include RC helicopters and the like."
That's the name of a recent DM article, Everything You Need to Know about Landsat 8. From the article: "It is anticipated that over 400 images per day will be collected, the most ever by any previous Landsat satellite."
From the NASA press release: ""LDCM will be the best Landsat satellite yet launched in terms of the quality and quantity of the data collected by the LDCM sensors," said Jim Irons, LDCM project scientist at Goddard. "OLI and TIRS both employ technological advances that will make the observations more sensitive to the variation across the landscape and to changes in the land surface over time." OLI will continue observations currently made by Landsat 7 in the visible, near infrared, and shortwave infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. It also will take measurements in two new bands, one to observe high altitude cirrus clouds and one to observe water quality in lakes and shallow coastal oceans as well as aerosols. [...] TIRS will collect data on heat emitted from Earth's surface in two thermal bands, as opposed to the single thermal band on previous Landsat satellites. Observations in the thermal bands are vital to monitoring water consumption, especially in the arid western United States."
Here's the NASA Landsat Data Continuity Mission website.
Via internal email, I learned that a few minutes ago the Government of Canada announced the final stage of the RADARSAT Constellation project.
From the press release: "The contract with MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA), announced today, will lead to the completion of construction; the launch of the three satellites, planned for 2018; and the first year of operation of the mission."
Technical details available here, "The RADARSAT Constellation is the evolution of the RADARSAT Program with the objective of ensuring data continuity, improved operational use of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and improved system reliability. The three-satellite configuration will provide complete coverage of Canada's land and oceans offering an average daily revisit, as well as daily access to 95% of the world to Canadian and International users."
Last year saw a record number of drones and UAV stories, and it's not expected to stop since they now are an efficient and cheap way to do remote sensing and a lot more. Here's a story discussed over Slashdot last weekend: DRONENET: An Internet of Drones.
Their summary: "In a series of posts on his blog, military theorist John Robb outlines what he thinks will be the next big thing — "as big as the internet," as he puts it. It's DRONENET: an internet of drones to be used as an automated delivery service. The drones themselves would require no futuristic technology. Modern quadrotor drones are available today for a few hundred dollars, and drone usage would be shared across an open, decentralized network. Robb estimates the cost for a typical delivery at about $0.25 every 10 miles, and points out that the drones would fit well alongside many ubiquitous technologies; the drone network shares obvious parallels with the internet, the drones would use GPS already-common GPS navigation, and the industry would mesh well with the open source hardware/software community. Finally, Robb talks about the standards required for building the DRONENET: "Simple rules for drone weight, dimensions, service ceiling, and speed. Simple rules for battery swap and recharging (from battery type, dimension, etc.). Simple rules for package containers. Simple rules for the dimensions and capabilities of landing pads. ... Decentralized database and transaction system for coordinating the network. Rules for announcing a landing pad (information from GPS location and services provided) to the network. Rules for announcing a drone to the network (from altitude to speed to direction to destination). Cargo announcement to the network, weight, and routing (think: DNS routing). A simple system for allocating costs and benefits (a commercial overlay). This commercial system should handle everything from the costs of recharging a drone and/or swapping a battery to drone use.""
Those of you doing remote sensing or have an interest in satellite capabilities will be interested by the WMO O.S.C.A.R. online tool; the 'Observing Systems Capability Analysis and Review' tool. There's a 10-minutes screencast that demonstrate what OSCAR can do for browsing satellites capabilities based on specific needs and variables. The tool is very well done and easy to use.
OSCAR is described like this: "OSCAR is a resource developed by WMO in support of Earth Observation applications, studies and global coordination. It contains quantitative user-defined requirements for observation of physical variables in application areas of WMO (i.e. related to weather, water and climate). OSCAR also provides detailed information on all earth observation satellites and instruments, and expert analyses of space-based capabilities."
It's been a while since we mentioned Geomatica, via AQT, I learned about the launch of Geomatica 2013 from PCI Geomatics. Geomatica is primarily a satellite imagery processing and analysis tool, but can do much more.
Here's how they present the new version: "Geomatica 2013 is loaded with updates and refinements that allow you to complete larger projects in less time with fewer errors. Graphical snapshots clearly illustrate image overlap as well as Tie-point and Groundcontrol point identification. Potential issues with your data are flagged in the updated Project Overview Viewer to assess the quality and coverage of your mosaics before committing valuable person-hours to the job. Live updates now run globally across the software suite allowing you to track changes across multiple projects with a high level of confidence and the ability to achieve accuracy. Our fastest Geomatica yet will improve your workflows and allow you to manage mosaics containing 1,000s of images with ease. You’ll wonder how you ever got along without it."
From the ESA: "Just weeks after celebrating its tenth year in orbit, communication with the Envisat satellite was suddenly lost on 8 April. Following rigorous attempts to re-establish contact and the investigation of failure scenarios, the end of the mission is being declared. A team of engineers has spent the last month attempting to regain control of Envisat, investigating possible reasons for the problem. Despite continuous commands sent from a widespread network of ground stations, there has been no reaction yet from the satellite."
Want to know more about all sensors that were onboard Envisat? Here's the wikipedia article.