Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. has delivered the next-generation commercial remote sensing satellite built for DigitalGlobe to a launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The WorldView-3 satellite is slated to fly aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in mid-August for DigitalGlobe, a leading provider of commercial high-resolution earth observation and advanced geospatial products.
The WorldView-3 spacecraft passed a full suite of environmental, functional and performance tests in preparation for integration with the launch vehicle, along with thorough pre-ship reviews by Ball Aerospace and DigitalGlobe.
WorldView-3 is the first multi-payload, super-spectral, high-resolution commercial satellite for earth observations and advanced geospatial data. Operating at an expected altitude of 383 miles (617 kilometers), WorldView-3 will collect imagery with 12 inch resolution (31 centimeters). "At 30-60 centimeters, you can easily discern key features such as manholes and mailboxes," according to DigitalGlobe's website. This level of resolution performance would be fundamentally impossible without the four-foot (1.1-meter) aperture telescope and the primary visible/SWIR sensor built by Exelis, which allows for a breadth of applications unmatched by smaller, lower-performance satellites. DigitalGlobe recently received permission from the U.S. Department of Commerce to sell its higher resolution satellite imagery, and once WorldView-3 is operational, the company will be able to deliver imagery with significantly greater clarity and spectral depth than anything else on the commercial market.
WorldView-3 also carries a Ball Aerospace-built atmospheric instrument called CAVIS, which stands for Clouds, Aerosol, water Vapor, Ice, and Snow. CAVIS will monitor the atmosphere and provide correction data when WorldView-3 images earth objects through haze, aerosols or other atmospheric obscurants.
The range of customer applications enabled by the DigitalGlobe constellation is greatly expanded by WorldView-3's ability to sense both the visible spectrum as well as deeper into the infrared spectrum. Its data-rich imagery will enable customers to search for new sources of minerals and fuels, manage forests and farms, and accelerate DigitalGlobe's creation of Geospatial Big Data - a living inventory of the surface of the earth.
WorldView-3 builds upon WorldView-2 and WorldView-1 technology by carrying forward the satellites' advanced Control Moment Gyroscopes (CMGs). The CMGs reorient a satellite over a desired collection area in 4-5 seconds, compared to 30-45 seconds needed for traditional reaction wheels. This enables the WorldView satellites to collect large areas far faster than competing satellites.