This satellite offers military-grade imagery to the masses. The latest changes are being observed through satellite imagery at Hotan in occupied East Turkestan, now Xinjiang, which is one of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF) major fighter airbases. Communications satellites are used for military communications applications. The KH-9 mapping camera was designed to support mapping requirements and exact positioning of geographical points. Resolution of the current generation multi-spectral scanner on Landsat 9 is 30 meters (98 feet) in visible light bands. Protected systems offer more sophisticated security protection like antijam features and nuclear survivability, while narrowband systems are intended for basic communications services that do not require high bandwidth. About 29,000 mapping images are available. [citation needed] Corona was followed by other programs including Canyon (seven launches between 1968 and 1977[4]), Aquacade[5] and Orion (stated by US Government sources to be extremely large[6]). This set of photos, declassified in 2002, consists of photographs from the KH-7 GAMBIT surveillance system and KH-9 HEXAGON mapping program. As the number of Earth-observing devices grows and their data output expands, Orbital Insight’s geospatial analytics platform finds observational truth in an interconnected world. Work within an analyst team and as an individual imagery … We map out and quantify the world’s complexities so that organizations can make more informed decisions.”, “By applying artificial intelligence to satellite, UAV, and other geospatial data sources, we seek to discover and quantify societal and economic trends on Earth that are indistinguishable to the human eye. The declassified imagery is held by the following two organizations: The declassified military satellite imagery available in the EROS archive is summarized below: USGS EROS Archive – Declassified Satellite Imagery – 1 (1960 to 1972), USGS EROS Archive – Declassified Satellite Imagery – 2 (1963 to 1980), USGS EROS Archive – Declassified Satellite Imagery – 3 (1971 to 1984), More information on the declassified imagery resources is available from the USGS EROS Archive – Products Overview webpage at the following link (see heading “Declassified Data”):, 4. Image resolution is 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 meters); significantly better than the 98 feet (30 meter) resolution of LANDSAT imagery. The first launch of a DSP satellite was on 6 November 1970 with the 23rd and last launched 10 November 2007. In the United States these satellites are operated by the Defense Support Program (DSP). This is currently operated with support from Astrium Services and provides near worldwide coverage with both X band and Ultra high frequency services. Free satellite imagery download is available from GBLF via an FTP client. You’ll find more information on the NRO’s film-return, optical reconnaissance satellites (KH-1 to KH-9) at the following links: You’ll find details on NRO’s electronic optical reconnaissance satellites (KH-11, KH-12) at the following links: 6. Additional reading related to US optical reconnaissance satellites. The salinity level now exceeds 100 grams per liter in the South Aral, which is about three times saltier than the ocean.”, On the USGS website, the “Earthshots: Satellite Images of Environmental Change” webpages show the visible changes at many locations on Earth over a 50+ year time period. The United Kingdom also operates military communication satellites through its Skynet system. Since the CORONA, ARGON, and LANYARD data were no longer critical to national security and could be of historical value for global change research, the images were declassified by Executive Order 12951 in 1995”, You can read Executive Order 12951 here: The US Armed Forces maintains international networks of satellites with ground stations located in various continents. Image resolution is 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 meters). KH-7 image resolution is 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1.2 meters). [19], Skynet 5 is the United Kingdom's most recent military communications satellite system. The data applications include science, environment studies, resources and disaster management, computer science. A military satellite is an artificial satellite used for a military purpose, often for gathering intelligence, as a communications satellite used for military purposes, or as a weapon. Richard Grey, “The spy photos that reveal an early start to Antarctic melt: Biggest ice shelf collapse on record began in the 1960s,” Daily Mail, 10 June 2016; Wenkai Ye, et al., “Improved Geometric Modeling of 1960s KH-5 ARGON Satellite Images for Regional Antarctic Applications,”  Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing, Vol. A fourth ground-based station, at an undetermined position, could then use those signals to fix its location precisely. Not all KH-9 satellite missions included a mapping camera. Some attempts were made to develop satellite based weapons but this work was halted in 1967 following the ratification of international treaties banning the deployment of weapons of mass destruction in orbit. The first launches were code named Discoverer. [10] The USAF had requirements for a more accurate and reliable navigation system, as did the United States Army for geodetic surveying [11] for which purpose they had developed the SECOR system. As of 2013, there are 950 satellites of all types in Earth orbit. CORONA image resolution improved from 40 feet (12.2 meters) for the KH-1 to about 6 feet (1.8 meters) for the KH-4B. Six spacecraft were launched between 1994 and 2003, of which five are operational, with the sixth lost in a launch failure. Launch in Earth. This program involved placing space stations in Earth orbit as an alternative to satellites. However, the unique imaging geometry of the CORONA satellite cameras, which produced long, narrow film strips, makes correcting spatial distortions in the images very challenging and has therefore limited their use by researchers.”, CAST reports that they have “developed methods for efficient, orthorectification of CORONA imagery and now provides free public access to our imagery database for non-commercial use. The KH-11, or an advanced version sometimes referred to as the KH-12, is operational today. [20] The system is provided by a private contractor, Astrium, with the UK government paying service charges based on bandwidth consumption. Analysis. The most common missions are intelligence gathering, navigation and military communications. With imagery collected from the past two decades, along with so many different options available, we can offer high resolution imagery for nearly any place on Earth. The declassified military reconnaissance satellite imagery provides views of the Earth starting in the early 1960s, more than a decade before civilian Earth observation satellites became operational. Fo… The declassified imagery is an important supplement to other Earth imagery sources. 14 Aug 2014. All you need to know is where to find them. Experience Earth on any device See all Earth versions. Additional reading related to civilian use of declassified spy satellite imagery, Earth Resources Observation and Science Center, National Aeronautics & Space Administration, National Archives and Records Administration,,,,, http://,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality – AR/VR, National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), 1996 – 2003, National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC), a joint project of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and DoD, 1961 – 1996. The Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies, a University of Arkansas / U.S. Geological Survey collaboration, has undertaken the CORONA Atlas Project using military reconnaissance satellite imagery to create the “CORONA Atlas & Referencing System”. NRO’s website is here: NRO’s early generations of Keyhole satellites were placed in low Earth orbits, acquired the desired photographic images on film during relatively short-duration missions, and then returned the film to Earth in small reentry capsules for airborne recovery. Pinkmatter's FarEarth Global Observer presents a live view of Landsat imagery as it is downlinked by ground-stations around the world. Three stations were launched between 1973 and 1976: Salyut 2, Salyut 3 and Salyut 5. In 1992, an Environmental Task Force evaluated the application of early satellite data for environmental studies. Dive … GEOINT consists of imagery, imagery intelligence and geospatial information. By Olivia Solon. Military Strategic and Tactical Relay, or Milstar, is a constellation of military satellites managed by the United States Air Force. A number of nations have developed satellite based early warning systems designed to detect ICBMs during different flight phases. Thursday 14 August 2014. The table of contents to the Earthshots webpages is shown below and is at the following link: http://, For the Aral Sea region, the Earthshots photo sequences start with ARGON KH-5 photos taken in 1964. China is constantly upgrading its military preparedness since the standoff with India began in eastern Ladakh in May. The Atlas contains 833 archaeological sites. The US Corona Project used a satellite to spy on Russia during the Cold War and now the images, taken in the 1960s and 1970s, are helping scientists better understand our planet. As of December 2018 there are 320 known military or dual-use satellites in the sky, half of which are owned by the US, followed by Russia, China and India (13).[1]. [citation needed], In 2015, United States military space units, and commercial satellite operator Intelsat, became concerned about apparent reconnaissance test maneuvers by Russian Luch (or Olymp) satellite which was launched in September 2014, when it maneuvered between the Intelsat 7 and Intelsat 901 satellites which are located only half a degree from one another in geosynchronous orbit.[8]. The first US military optical reconnaissance satellite program, code named CORONA, pioneered the development and refinement of the technologies, equipment and systems needed to deploy an operational orbital optical reconnaissance capability. Following Salyut 5, the Soviet Ministry of Defence judged in 1978 that the time consumed by station maintenance outweighed the benefits relative to automatic reconnaissance satellites. Stratfor Military Analyst Sim Tack explains a series of satellite images that show the construction of a Russian air base in Syria. Resolutions for the sensors in this section range between 0.3 meter (the highest commercially available) to 1 meter. The Soviet Union began the Almaz (Russian: Алмаз) program in the early 1960s. The military reconnaissance satellite imagery, except from ARGON KH-5, is higher resolution than is available today from Landsat civilian earth observation satellites. Not only does this create unprecedented transparency, but it also empowers business and policy decision makers with new insights and unbiased knowledge of socio-economic trends. Here, we quantify changes in ice thickness during the intervals 1975–2000 and 2000–2016 across the Himalayas, using a set of digital elevation models derived from cold war–era spy satellite film and modern stereo satellite imagery.”, “The majority of the KH-9 images here were acquired within a 3-year interval (1973–1976), and we processed a total of 42 images to provide sufficient spatial coverage.”, “We observe consistent ice loss along the entire 2000-km transect for both intervals and find a doubling of the average loss rate during 2000–2016.”, “Our compilation includes glaciers comprising approximately 34% of the total glacierized area in the region, which represents roughly 55% of the total ice volume based on recent ice thickness estimates.”, You can read the complete paper by J. M. Maurer, et al., on the Science Advances website here: A European satellite designed to collect Earth sciences data and distribute it freely to people around the world has the unintended consequence of detecting military radars. [2] Within this program a number of sub-programs were developed including Corona. Google Earth on web Now available on Chrome and coming soon to more browsers. [2] Discoverer 1, the first mission, was launched on 28 February 1959 although it didn't carry a payload being intended as a test flight to prove the technology. They are typically used to take overhead photos for military missions. Conducting commercial geospatial analytics over a broader period of time: The firm Orbital Insight, founded in 2013, is an example of commercial firms that are mining geospatial data and developing valuable information products for a wide range of customers. In military parlance, this is ‘sensor to shooter’. Example applications of declassified military reconnaissance satellite imagery. SECOR used ground-based transmitters from known locations that sent signals to satellite transponder in orbit. A Silicon Valley start-up is offering the most detailed space radar imagery on the market Capella Space is teaching the US military how to make satellite radar … The US Navy required precise navigation to enable submarines to get an accurate fix of their positions before they launched their SLBMs. Satellite images are only as good as their resolution. Real-time data is received, decoded and displayed within seconds of the satellite imaging an area. [2] Satellites within the Corona program carried different code names. In the United States the first formal military satellite programs, Weapon System 117L, was developed in the mid 1950s. For security reasons, there are no published orbit schedules for the imagery spacecraft. [12], In 1978, the first experimental Block-I GPS satellite was launched[13] and by December 1993, GPS achieved initial operational capability (IOC), indicating a full constellation (24 satellites) was available and providing the Standard Positioning Service (SPS). This program has been superseded by the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS). The first military use of satellites was for reconnaissance. The first Landsat satellite was launched on 23 July 1972 with two electronic observing systems, both of which had a spatial resolution of about 80 meters (262 feet). On a larger scale, free detailed satellite imagery can be retrieved via the Earth Science Data Interface (ESDI). A KH-12 is a $1 billion satellite that resembles the Hubble Space Telescope, except it is looking at our planet. The most common missions are intelligence gathering, navigation and military communications. Geospatial intelligence, or GEOINT, is the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth. These sites are often clearly visible on CORONA imagery, enabling researchers to map sites that have been lost and to discover many that have never before been documented. [citation needed] It was abandoned after a Soviet Navy submarine was detected waiting beneath a mid-air retrieval zone in the Pacific Ocean. During the Cold War, on the vast, barren flatland around Area 51's dried-up Groom Lake, the military developed a stealth spy plane code-named Project Oxcart. The advent of the US civilian Earth observation programs. The project floundered due to the lack of any mechanism to protect the satellites from attack resulting in the cancellation of Defender in 1968. Use imagery to analyse and report significant features and activity at military installations. Not only can you download the latest, greatest satellite imagery… but it’s all FREE. The last SECOR satellite was launched in 1969. 7, July 2017. The treaty became effective on 10 October 1967 and, as of May 2013, 102 countries are parties to the treaty with a further 27 pending full ratification.[16][17]. Abstract only at: Carolyn Gramling, “Cold War–era spy satellite images show Himalayan glaciers are melting fast – Declassified photos and NASA data provide a picture of accelerating ice loss,” 19 June 2019, Sciencenews website at: Geoff Manaugh, “Archaeologists Are Spotting Ancient Ruins in Cold War Spy Photos,” The Atlantic, 23 June 2016. Overview of US military optical reconnaissance satellite programs. The UK government is pushing ahead with its plans for a cluster of military radar satellites, placing a design study with Airbus. Whoops. Operationally Response Satellite-1; Kestrel-Eye; Geostationary Imaging Satellites; 8X; FIA - Future Imagery Architecture to BASIC ; FIA RECSAT Concept; E … NASA satellite imagery and astronaut photography reveal where an English alphabet can be found in the landforms of the Earth. Read below to see our go-to list of free satellite imagery sources. The satellites would have deployed a huge wire mesh to disable ICBMs during their early launch phase. It is now only about 10% of the size it was in 1960…..In the 1990s, a dam was built to prevent North Aral water from flowing into the South Aral. KH-5 ARGON image resolution was about 460 feet (140 meters). The USGS explains: “The images were originally used for reconnaissance and to produce maps for U.S. intelligence agencies. NRO developed several generations of classified Keyhole (KH) military optical reconnaissance satellites that have been the primary sources of Earth imagery for the US Department of Defense (DoD) and intelligence agencies. 1 Description 2 Military satellite industry 3 Use by the U.S. Armed Forces 4 See also 5 References 6 Resources 7 External links Star Wars program A satellite by itself is neither military nor civil. Squadron Leader KK Nair, "Space: The Frontiers of Modern Defence", This page was last edited on 31 December 2020, at 03:40. Satellite Imagery Intelligence for Defence Operations. Since 1972, Landsat satellites have continuously acquired low-to-moderate resolution digital images of the Earth’s land surface, providing long-term data about the status of natural resources and the environment. Keyhole satellites are identified by a code word and a “KH” designator, as summarized in the following table. Typically military satellites operate in the UHF, SHF (also known as X-band) or EHF (also known as Ka band) frequency bands. There have also been a number of subsequent programs including Magnum and Trumpet,[7] but these remain classified and therefore many details remain speculative. Use imagery to analyse and report on the status and activity of deployed military forces. Bing Maps. [20], Why Isro's Gsat-7A launch is important for the Indian Air Force, "Military Satellite Systems: A History — Part One", "Russian Satellite Maneuvers, Silence Worry Intelsat", "Why Did the Department of Defense Develop GPS? Satellite imagery of an experimental military base that was missing from Google Maps for years is now available … but you'll have to go to New York City to see it. High-resolution satellite imagery tracks the changing human footprint across the globe, including rapidly growing cities, urban sprawl, and informal settlements. USGS reports: “The Aral Sea once covered about 68,000 square kilometers, a little bigger than the U.S. state of West Virginia. Satellite imagery from Keyhole reconnaissance satellites is an important information source for national security-related GEOINT activities. [3] The Corona program continued until 25 May 1972. Declassified satellite imagery (e.g., Corona, Argon and Lanyard) used in early mapping programs may be obtained from the USGS EROS Data Center at 605-594-6151 or [email protected] or from the National Archives at 301-837-1926 or [email protected] NASA has developed in recent years a platform, called Land, Atmosphere Near Real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE), to provide near real-time data to those needing data and use of platforms such as MODIS. Orbital Insight reports: “Orbital Insight turns millions of images into a big-picture understanding of Earth. They are deployed in geostationary orbit and provide wideband, narrowband and protected military communication systems. Up until the 1960s, Aral Sea salinity was around 10 grams per liter, less than one-third the salinity of the ocean. The first satellite navigation system, Transit, used by the United States Navy, was tested in 1960.