With less than 24 hours left prior to the slated take-off time, we are eagerly anticipating the launch of WorldView-3, DigitalGlobe’s most sophisticated high resolution imaging satellite ever put into orbit!
The scheduled launch is for August 13, 2014 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. at 11:29 a.m. PDT (2:30 p.m. EDT, 6:30 p.m. UTC.)
In addition to launch activities in California., Lockheed Martin Corp., Ball Aerospace Technologies Corp., Exelis, United Launch Alliance and DigitalGlobe, Inc. will be participating in a community watch event in partnership with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS) in Denver, Colorado. This event is free and open to the public with Museum admission.
You can also join us by watching via the ground-to-orbit webcast provided by United Launch Alliance. Tune in about 20 minutes early and you’ll be able to hear the countdown!
For the most recent information on WorldView-3 check out the following:
• A summary by our friends at MapBox – www.mapbox.com/blog/worldview-3-launch/
• Visit our microsite – http://worldview3.digitalglobe.com
• Follow the conversation and join the excitement via Twitter with #WV3
By Craig Oswald Exelis Geospatial Systems, Commercial Imaging Manager
When WorldView-3 begins downlinking its first images in a few months, DigitalGlobe customers will have access to the highest resolution imagery commercially available to better support the growing needs of a variety of industries including agriculture, oil and gas, and mining. From seeing the visible to the invisible, WorldView-3 will offer dramatically more information in every image collected. WorldView-3 is an evolution from the commercial imaging satellites that came before it and the next iteration of remarkable technology.
A powerful combination of capabilities, the integrated, super-spectral payload consisting of a telescope, sensor and shortwave infrared system is the latest payload provided by Exelis to support DigitalGlobe. Exelis has provided the remote sensing payloads for all of DigitalGlobe’s satellite constellation including IKONOS, QuickBird, WorldView-1, GeoEye-1, WorldView-2 and now WorldView-3 follows in the path of these systems with new and enhanced features.
Exelis helped create the commercial remote-sensing market by designing and building the imaging system for IKONOS, the world’s first commercial high-resolution satellite, launched in 1999 and still operating today. Exelis also built the payload for GeoEye-1, the world’s first space-borne imaging system with better than one-half meter resolution.
In 2007, WorldView-1 launched as the first of DigitalGlobe’s next-generation satellites and was considered the most agile imaging satellite ever flown commercially. It can collect more than 1.5 million square kilometers per day of half-meter imagery. In October 2009, WorldView-2 launched and became the first commercial imaging satellite to carry a high resolution 8-band multispectral sensor. It provides the ability to image all of the world’s urban areas every two weeks. It can also image all arable land and permanent crops every month. WorldView-2 opened a number of applications to include mapping wetlands, algae blooms vegetation and urban sprawl, among many. Five years later, WorldView-3 will have double the number of spectral bands, opening even greater capability.
WorldView-3 will be able to provide 31 centimeter resolution from 617 kilometers away. For perspective, that is the same as the distance between Southern California’s Hollywood sign and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. If the imagery were located at the Hollywood sign, users would be able to count all of the people on the Golden Gate Bridge.
Because the characteristics of various materials reflect light differently, the use of more spectral bands is the key to distinguishing between them and why WorldView-3 will provide panchromatic and 16 spectral bands. This “super-spectral” capability means we’ll be able to see the difference between a red car and a blue car. Very near-infrared enables distinguishing between a Maple tree and a Pine tree. While short-wave infrared provides the ability to “see” through clouds and haze, allowing users to identify houses near a forest fire through the smoke, for example. This is a capability that will be very useful in applications for mapping, land classifications, disaster preparedness and response, soil and vegetation analysis, geology uses, environmental monitoring and coastal applications.
The satellites in DigitalGlobe’s constellation have steadily evolved with increasing resolution, spectral bands, on-board storage, agility, geolocation accuracy, and downlink rates. Exelis has developed scalable, modular sensor architectures with smaller pixels, faster line rates and better sensitivity enabling improved ground sample distance. All of the improvements made from generation I and II remote sensing satellites have enabled the collection of better data to support decision making across industries.
For archaeologists, an ever-changing physical and political landscape poses challenges to identifying, assessing and preserving ancient sites. It’s a race against the clock given shrinking budgets, climate change and human intervention. Recently, however, satellite imagery has taken on an important role in the discovery process with not only the help of high resolution imagery itself but specifically the near-infrared band commercially available on WorldView-2 .
The need to understand soil composition
Many ancient landscapes are obscured by modern development, making it difficult and, at times, impossible to locate important archaeological features. Surface vegetation and soil composition hold a key to what lies beneath. The presence of mud brick, for example, a common and ancient building material, has a direct effect on the soil moisture and vegetation above as it degrades.
“The high-resolution and near-infrared imagery generated by satellites like WorldView-2 detects those subtle changes to the soils where magnetometers and other traditional survey methods do not,” explains Dr. Sarah Parcak, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “It enhances our ability to pinpoint areas of interest that will likely require further survey and potential excavation.”
How will WorldView-3 enhance the industry?
High-resolution satellite imagery, like that from DigitalGlobe’s constellation of five satellites, currently helps the archaeological industry with mapping, cadastral, elevation data, feature extraction and soil classification in a cost-effective manner. Now with the launch of Worldview-3 just weeks away, the archaeological community is even more excited for the capability of Short-Wave Infrared (SWIR) – adding spectral coverage to the invisible range to help identify things like minerals and specific vegetation. This enhancement will allow archaeologists to be able to detect sites more easily and to ask more relevant questions about those ancient landscapes.
But don’t take it from us; hear Dr. Sarah Parcak speak about what the launch of WorldView-3 means to her and how it will be a “game-changer” for archaeologists everywhere!