A Suitcase-Size Satellite’s Big Image of Frozen Earth Below


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About two weeks in the past, a satellite tv for pc known as Iceye-X1 hitched a journey into orbit aboard an Indian rocket. It’s in regards to the dimension of a suitcase, and has already despatched its first image, constructed out of microwave radar reflections, again to Earth.

“I personally love this picture,” stated Rafal Modrzewski, the chief government of Iceye, a Finnish start-up that constructed and operates the satellite tv for pc, referring to a scene from the Noatak Nationwide Protect in Alaska. “It’s filled with snow, nevertheless it’s a lot extra advanced than you assume at first.”

The swath of the park seen within the first picture is 1.2 gigabytes of information that encompasses an space about 50 miles lengthy by 25 miles extensive. It was made utilizing a expertise often known as artificial aperture radar, or SAR.

The potential of Iceye-X1 isn’t by itself groundbreaking. Edward R. Caro, who labored for many years on spaceborne radar devices at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., stated it’s roughly comparable in efficiency to what he and his colleagues placed on NASA’s 5,000-pound Seasat satellite tv for pc early in his profession. “It might be analogous what we had been flying in 1978,” he stated.

However Iceye-X1, which weighs lower than 220 kilos, takes benefit of the miniaturization of contemporary client electronics, largely utilizing off-the-shelf elements, and the cheaper rides to house now out there.


The satellite tv for pc is the scale of a suitcase and makes use of a expertise often known as artificial aperture radar to map Earth’s floor.

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“I can’t reward them sufficient for what they’ve accomplished,” stated Mr. Caro, who supplied some consulting to Mr. Modrzewski’s workforce.

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