DigitalGlobe WorldView-3 satellite captures images with Exelis-built, integrated imaging system

ROCHESTER, N.Y., 5 Sept. 2014. DigitalGlobe released the first images taken with the Exelis-built (NYSE:XLS) integrated, super-spectral imaging system on the WorldView-3 satellite, which launched last month from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The images, taken at 617 kilometers above earth, are of Madrid, Spain.

DigitalGlobe WorldView-3 satellite captures images with Exelis-built, integrated imaging system
DigitalGlobe WorldView-3 satellite captures images with Exelis-built, integrated imaging system

ROCHESTER, N.Y., 5 Sept. 2014. DigitalGlobe released the first images taken with the Exelis-built (NYSE:XLS) integrated, super-spectral imaging system on the WorldView-3 satellite, which launched last month from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The images, taken at 617 kilometers above earth, are of Madrid, Spain.

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According to a DigitalGlobe official: "We are beyond thrilled by the clarity and quality of the imagery that we are sharing today. We thank our partners at Ball Aerospace and Exelis for building such a terrific satellite, and to theLockheed Martin and ULA teams for putting it on orbit safely. We look forward to sharing more imagery and examples of WorldView-3 over the coming weeks. Leave us a comment and let us know what you’d like to see from WorldView-3 and ideas for helping us move toward our purpose of Seeing a Better World."

Exelis built the integrated, super-spectral imaging system consisting of a telescope, sensor, and shortwave infrared (SWIR) system, making WorldView-3 the first high-resolution commercial imaging satellite to feature such capabilities and allowing DigitalGlobe to expand its imagery product offerings.

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WorldView-3 collects imagery at 31-centimeter resolution -- delivering five times the clarity of other commercial providers, according to a spokesperson. With the most spectral diversity, the satellite’s SWIR bands will allow for accurate imaging through haze, fog, dust, smoke, and other airborne particulates.

“Exelis built and delivered a world-class imaging payload that will expand the applications for commercial satellite imagery and allow us to deliver more value to our customers,” explains DigitalGlobe President and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey R. Tarr. “We’re very pleased with the early performance of the imaging payload, and we look forward to delivering the unique geospatial products it will enable to our government and commercial customers.”

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The new capabilities will help solve tough challenges across a variety of applications, including accurate crop mapping; efficient site selection, exploration, and environmental monitoring for the energy industry; and mineral identification and chemical measurements to support mining, officials say.

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“Exelis is proud to be a trusted ‘lifetime partner’ to DigitalGlobe, providing imaging systems for every satellite they have ever built,” says Rob Mitrevski, vice president and general manager of Exelis Geospatial Systems. “Our imaging systems represent the heart of every satellite in the DigitalGlobe constellation, and every one of these systems continues to collect imagery used by DigitalGlobe and its customers for timely, accurate, actionable information. WorldView-3 proudly follows in the path of these systems with new and enhanced capabilities.”

Exelis also supplied imaging systems used on DigitalGlobe’s IKONOS, QuickBird, WorldView-1, GeoEye-1, and WorldView-2 satellites. DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 satellite, planned for launch in mid-2016, will also carry an Exelis-built imager.

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Exelis in McLean, Va., is a global aerospace, defense, information, and services company that delivers mission-critical solutions, such as positioning and navigation, sensors, air traffic management solutions, image processing and distribution, communications, and information systems. The company is also focused on strategic growth in the areas of critical networks, ISR and analytics, electronic warfare, and composite aerostructures.

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Background
On August 19, a mere six days after launch, DigitalGlobe completed commissioning of the satellite bus and opened the door on the main telescope. And on August 21, DigitalGlobe completed its focusing and achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) on the entire suite of WorldView-3’s super-spectral 27 bands.

DigitalGlobe released several WorldView-3 image examples from its collection of Madrid, Spain. As you can see in the examples, you can more easily determine the type of vehicle (cars, trucks, sedans, mini vans) and its speed and direction. With WorldView-3, DigitalGlobe can automatically distinguish different colors, textures and measure change over time which is important for the energy sector, conservationists, and governments. Because of the regulatory restrictions, DigitalGlobe can’t yet display the 30 cm native resolution data so its images have been resampled to 40 cm which is available to download.

Update
DigitalGlobe formally notified the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of WorldView-3’s IOC, which means that beginning on February 21, 2015, we will able to deliver 30 cm imagery to all of our customers. In the meantime, we will make 40 cm panchromatic and 1.6 m multispectral data available to our customers when WorldView-3 completes its validation and testing. Data from the satellite’s new shortwave infrared (SWIR) sensor will also be available to customers, however the resolution of this data will be restricted to 7.5 m while NOAA is conducting a six-month study of the capability.

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