A new constellation of satellites aims to improve decision-making and response times in emergency situations.
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British company Earth-i has successfully launched a prototype satellite, the Carbonite-2, which is the first step in a planned satellite constellation. When completed, the constellation will be the first network to bring color, full-motion video of the Earth from space. The Carbonite-2 weighs 100kg and will orbit at 505km above the Earth, travelling at approximately 7km a second. It was launched on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, from the Sriharikota rocket launch center in southeast India. The satellite joins recent innovations involving space such as a startup that helps school kids conduct experiments in space and the world’s tiniest satellite.
Carbonite-2 is the first stage for Earth-i. The satellite will demonstrate and prove technology and processes in advance of the constellation. When complete, the commercial constellation, to be called Vivid-i, will be able to film moving objects such as vehicles, vessels and aircraft in Ultra High Definition color video, at a resolution of 1 meter. Footage from the constellation will be available for analysis within minutes of being captured. This could allow improved decision-making and response times in situations such as disaster response and infrastructure monitoring. According to Josef Aschbacher, director of Earth observation programmes at the European Space Agency, “The Vivid-i Constellation will provide capabilities we haven’t seen before, including full-colour video, and an assured stream of high-quality data from space to help improve both our planet and our lives on Earth.”
Carbonite-2 and the Vivid-i are at the forefront of the ‘New Space Era’ which is being driven by commercial and governmental organisations that want to use high-quality, up-to-the-minute images and video from space to improve investment and trading decisions, monitor and track assets, track changes or activities in key locations and predict future events with more certainty. Earth-i has already ordered the next five satellites in the Vivid-i constellation, which when complete will consist of 15 satellites. What other uses could there be for up-to-the-minute color video of the Earth taken from space?