August 13, 2012

Olympic Park Caught On Proba-1 Satellite Camera

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

With the Olympics officially wrapped up, those wishing the international games would never come to an end can look at a new photo taken by a satellite of the Olympic neighborhood to help tickle their fancy until 2016.

The European Space Agency's Proba-1 microsatellite snapped a photo of London's Olympic Park with its High Resolution Camera, showing off stadiums where records were broken and hearts were won.

The Olympic Park is visible towards the bottom of the high-resolution photo, also showing Victoria Park to its west, and Hackney Marsh to the northwest.

In the image, viewers can see all of the Olympic buildings, including the track and field stadium. The resolution is so great that viewers can make out the track in which Usain Bolt retained his title as the fastest man in the world.

The black and white High Resolution Camera incorporates a Cassegrain telescope miniaturized to fit aboard Proba-1. The camera can take pictures with an area of about 9.5 square miles.

The microsatellite orbits the Earth at an altitude of about 450 miles, and its entire volume takes up less than 35 cubic feet.

The digital camera operates alongside Proba-1's larger Compact High Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (CHRIS) hyperspectral imager. This camera has a resolution that sees across a programmable selection of up to 62 special brands.

Proba-1 was the first in ESA's series of satellites aimed at providing in-orbit testing of new space technologies. The Proba series stands for "Project for Onboard Autonomy."

Controllers at ESA are able to send up the location for Proba-1 to image, then the satellite does the rest. It lines up its instruments with its targets on the ground, and snaps a photo using its autonomous cameras.

The microsatellite launched in October 2001 as an experimental mission, and is still going strong after being reassigned to ESA's Earth observation team.

This year, Proba-1 was issued a software fix in order to help return its radiation damaged star trackers back to full operations.

Proba-2 joined the 11-year veteran satellite in space in November 2009. This satellite focuses on solar monitoring.

The Prova-V satellite will be launching next year, with its mission positioned to help keep an eye on global vegetation.