It's a first. A synthetic-aperture radar image taken by a microsatellite in under 10 seconds.
Launched less than a week ago on January 12, 2018 on ISRO’s PSLV-C40 from Satish Dhawan Space Center in India, ICEYE's synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) microsatellite today published the first radar image obtained with the ICEYE-X1 SAR satellite. The micro satellite is providing expanded access to reliable and timely Earth observation data.
The image depicts Noatak National Preserve, Alaska, on Monday January 15, at 21:47 UTC. ICEYE-X1 is the world’s first SAR satellite under 100 kg, or 220.42 pounds, launched less than a week ago on January 12, 2018 on ISRO’s PSLV-C40 from Satish Dhawan Space Center in India.
A synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) instrument sends its own radio waves to the ground, creating an image from the energy that scatters back to the instrument. Given this, SAR sensors can provide imaging of the Earth during both day and night, regardless of cloud cover and weather condition.
Conventional SAR satellites typically weigh in excess of 1000 kg due to the amount of instrumentation on board. ICEYE-X1 is ICEYE’s first satellite mission. Both the satellite bus and the SAR instrument were developed and integrated by ICEYE. ICEYE-X1 is a significant shift in size from traditional SAR satellites, allowing the technology to be condensed into a satellite weighing under 100 kg. This in turn enables launching a constellation of many satellites rather than only a few.
The full image transmitted to the ground from ICEYE-X1 exceeded 1.2GB of raw data and spans an area of roughly 80 x 40 km on the ground. ICEYE-X1 obtained the image in the span of ten seconds, traveling at a speed of more than 7.5 km/s and at an altitude exceeding 500 km. Matching what ICEYE simulated prior to the launch, the final data resolution from the first satellite reaches 10 x 10 meters.
Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and co-founder of ICEYE said with this single image, the ICEYE-X1 mission is already a full success regarding their most important goals, but this is just the beginning. They are now working to increase the range of incidence angles and to more than double the ground resolution for ICEYE-X2, and they are looking forward to launching their next mission as soon as this summer.
ICEYE-X1 has been successfully communicating with the ground since 05:20 UTC, January 12th, using both S-band and X-band for transmission. Telemetry data exchanged with the satellite in the first 100 orbits has already reached more than 1GB, surpassing a critical milestone for the mission.
Pekka Laurila, CFO and co-founder of ICEYE added that they are moving towards the calibration of their SAR instrument and increasing image quality in orbit. The mission is progressing with a timeline faster than all expectations. After our initial SAR instrument calibration is finished, they will start operational pilot imaging services for their first customers.