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UK-DMC2 prepared for launch

SSTL’s UK-DMC2 satellite has successfully completed pre-launch tests and is integrated with a Dnepr launch vehicle at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in readiness for launch on Wednesday, 29th July 2009 at 18:46 UTC, 19:46 BST. The new satellite will be operated by subsidiary company DMCii to provide an enhanced imaging capability and operational service to the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC). UK-DMC2 has a number of enhancements over previous DMC spacecraft contributing to SSTL’s continuing evolutionary design approach. UK-DMC2 carries a higher resolution optical payload which will provide 22m ground sample distance (GSD) images, compared with 32m GSD on the four operational satellites currently in the constellation. The 22m imagery has twice the data density of the 32m imagery without loss of Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) and maintains the ultra-wide 600+km swath.
SSTL launch services team in Baikonur
SSTL launch services team in Baikonur
The satellite carries two high-speed X-band transmitters that will both operate at 20Mbps or 80Mbps. This will enable the satellite to download images up to 10 times faster than previous DMC spacecraft. Storage capacity has increased from 1 to 1.5 GByte on the first generation of DMC spacecraft up to 12 GByte on UK-DMC2. These advancements, in combination with improved power generation and storage systems, will allow UK-DMC2 to rapidly map large areas such as Europe or other continents. The advances in data throughput and power generation have enabled two new operational modes. Firstly, a near-real time imaging and downlink mode allows imagery acquired within a ~2000 km radius of a ground station to be downlinked within the same pass and, secondly, the implementation of a broadcast downlink mode that enables customers with a receive-only ground station to receive data directly from UK-DMC2. These technology improvements not only make the satellite more flexible than previous designs, but also dramatically increase the operational imaging capacity by allowing the satellite to store and download much larger volumes of multi-spectral image data. In practical terms, the increased imaging capacity means that the satellite has less "dead time". By fully using the different modes available, this latest DMC satellite will be able to rapidly download significantly more image data than previously possible. The satellite does not need to wait until it has emptied the onboard storage before being re-tasked to acquire further images elsewhere. As an example, DMCii annually provides coverage of the Amazon Basin. These coverage campaigns have taken 6 weeks to complete with two of the current DMC spacecraft. By comparison, UK-DMC2 on its own can cover the same area in just 11 days. The 96kg UK-DMC2 satellite is based upon SSTL’s SSTL-100 small satellite platform, which uses solar cells integrated into the spacecraft’s surface to generate power. UK-DMC2 includes an additional deployable solar panel that will increase power generation by approximately 50%.





23 July 20090 Comments1 Comment

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