Direct Tasking of High Resolution Optical Satellites. The Evolution from Single-Satellite to Constellation Planning
Ellis, George
European Space Imaging, GERMANY

This presentation provides an overview of past, present and future optical high resolution satellites with local satellite tasking capabilities, data downlink and processing, and their use for GMES / Copernicus.

The year 1999 shifted the premises of remote sensing and gave way for new survey opportunities and commercial applications when Space Imaging, based in Thornton, Colorado, U.S., launched their satellite Ikonos. For the first time ever digitally acquired and processed imagery with a spatial ground cell size of one meter and below became commercially available.

Beginning with Ikonos in 2003, European Space Imaging (EUSI) performs direct satellite tasking since 10 years. Starting in 2010, EUSI now utilizes DigitalGlobe's (DG) constellation of three VHR optical satellites, WorldView-2, WorldView-1 and QuickBird (in central tasking mode).

Beside the proven benefits of EUSI's local satellite tasking with WorldView-2 and WorldView-1 - fast feedback and reaction during collection planning, real-time weather integration and very detailed collection plan editing - constellation tasking additionally yields better collection through

  • Higher repeat rates and improved site access

  • Increased collection capacity

  • Coordinated imagery collection

    In a first part, the presentation provides a general overview of the company activities and the characteristics of the satellites used for GMES / Copernicus. After this introduction, the focus is set to the benefits of local tasking in combination with current constellation tasking. Using examples of real-life scenarios, information flows necessary for collection planning and production/delivery are illustrated. The presentation's final part will address the newest developments regarding upcoming satellites and satellite constellations with direct tasking capabilities and how they will improve access to timely satellite data specifically for emergencies as well as for GMES / Copernicus in general.