SSTL’s UK-DMC2 satellite has successfully completed pre-launch tests and after it was integrated with a Dnepr launch vehicle at the Baikonur Cosmodrome it has been launched successfully on Wednesday, 29th July 2009 at 18:46 UTC, 19:46 BST.
The new satellite is operated by subsidiary company DMCii to provide an enhanced imaging capability and operational service to the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC). UK-DMC2 has a number of enhancements over previous DMC spacecraft contributing to SSTL’s continuing evolutionary design approach. The satellite is also being used as a test bed for new technologies and is supporting a BNSC sponsored school science experiment called POISE.
UK-DMC2 carries a higher resolution optical payload which will provide 22m ground sample distance (GSD) images, compared with 32m GSD on the four operational satellites currently in the constellation. The 22m imagery has twice the data density of the 32m imagery without loss of Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) and maintains the ultra-wide 600+km swath.
The satellite carries two high-speed X-band transmitters that will both operate at 20Mbps or 80Mbps. This will enable the satellite to download images up to 10 times faster than previous DMC spacecraft. Storage capacity has increased from 1 to 1.5 GByte on the first generation of DMC spacecraft up to 12 GByte on UK-DMC2. These advancements, in combination with improved power generation and storage systems, will allow UK-DMC2 to rapidly map large areas such as Europe or other continents.
The advances in data throughput and power generation have enabled two new operational modes. Firstly, a near-real time imaging and downlink mode allows imagery acquired within a ~2000 km radius of a ground station to be downlinked within the same pass and, secondly, the implementation of a broadcast downlink mode that
The 96kg UK-DMC2 satellite is based upon SSTL’s SSTL-100 small satellite platform, which uses solar cells integrated into the spacecraft’s surface to generate power. UK-DMC2 includes an additional deployable solar panel that will increase power generation by approximately 50%.
SSTL and its UK-DMC2 satellite will also support a scientific experiment developed by the winners of the Space Experiment Competition for UK students, sponsored by the British National Space Centre (BNSC). Shrewsbury School’s POISE experiment will investigate the way in which fluctuations in the ionospheric layer of the Earth’s atmosphere can affect the radio signals passing through it. The team at Shrewsbury School will use receivers mounted onboard UK-DMC2 to pick up GPS signals that have passed through the ionosphere. POISE will measure the signal properties to determine its integrity. It is thought that by monitoring ionospheric scintillation, the experiment could support research into predicting earthquakes from space.
UK-DMC2 has been launched into a sun-synchronous orbit alongside Deimos-1, another DMC satellite built by SSTL for Spanish company Deimos Space. This will bring the number of operational DMC satellites to six.
To find out more about UK-DMC2, its future role in disaster relief and Earth observation click here.