These developments led eventually to the deployment of the Global Positioning System (GPS). Images can be viewed online and full resolution images can be downloaded in NITF format.”, The can explore the CORONA Atlas & Referencing System here: https://corona.cast.uark.edu. 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, https://www.nga.mil/ProductsServices/Pages/Imagery.aspx, https://www.usgs.gov/land-resources/nli/landsat, https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/WCPD-1995-02-27/pdf/WCPD-1995-02-27-Pg304.pdf, https://www.usgs.gov/centers/eros/science/usgs-eros-archive-products-overview?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects, http:// https://earthshots.usgs.gov/earthshots/, https://earthshots.usgs.gov/earthshots/node/91#ad-image-0-0, https://www.sciencenews.org/article/spy-satellites-reveal-early-start-antarctic-ice-shelf-collapse, https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/6/eaav7266, https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=20232.0, https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/books-and-monographs/corona.pdf, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KH-6_Lanyard, https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Visit/Museum-Exhibits/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/195920/gambit-1-kh-7-reconnaissance-satellite/, https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Visit/Museum-Exhibits/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/195922/gambit-3-kh-8-reconnaissance-satellite/, https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Visit/Museum-Exhibits/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/195921/hexagon-kh-9-reconnaissance-satellite/, https://space.skyrocket.de/doc_sdat/kh-1.htm, https://www.americaspace.com/2012/06/06/top-secret-kh-11-spysat-design-revealed-by-nros-twin-telescope-gift-to-nasa/, http://www.spacesafetymagazine.com/space-debris/astrophotography/view-keyhole-satellite/, https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2008/3054/pdf/fs2008-3054.pdf, https://news.virginia.edu/content/cold-war-era-spy-satellite-images-reveal-possible-effects-climate-change, https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/77193/the-aral-sea-before-the-streams-ran-dry, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3635121/The-SPY-PHOTOS-reveal-early-start-Antarctic-melt-Biggest-ice-shelf-collapse-record-began-1960s.html, http://www.asprs.org/a/publications/pers/2017journals/PERS_July_2017_Public/HTML/files/assets/common/downloads/page0019.pdf, https://www.sciencenews.org/article/cold-war-spy-satellite-images-himalayan-glaciers-rapid-melting, https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/06/among-the-remnants/488279/, 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 classified military satellite systems code-named CORONA, ARGON, and LANYARD acquired photographic images from space and returned the film to Earth for processing and analysis. By the late 1980s, the average ice velocity at the front of the shelf was around 20 percent faster than in the preceding decades,….”, You can read the complete article on the ScienceNews website here: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/spy-satellites-reveal-early-start-antarctic-ice-shelf-collapse. , In 1978, the first experimental Block-I GPS satellite was launched 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). For security reasons, there are no published orbit schedules for the imagery spacecraft. The first military satellites were photographic reconnaissance missions. 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. 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”. The smaller the pixel size, the sharper the image. 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. Robert Perry, “A History of Satellite Reconnaissance,” Volumes I to V, National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), various dates 1973 – 1974; released under FOIA and available for download on the NASA Spaceflight.com website, here: Kevin C. Ruffner (Editor), “CORONA: America’s First Satellite Program,” CIA War Records Series, Central Intelligence Agency, 1995; Craig Covault, “Top Secret KH-11 Spysat Design Revealed By NRO’s Twin Telescope Gift to NASA,” 6 June 2012; Ralf Vandebergh, “KH-12 Keenan Keyhole Secret Military Spy Satellite Photos,” Space Safety Magazine, 26 September 2013; US Geologic Survey Fact Sheet 2008-3054, “Declassified Intelligence Satellite Photographs,” July 2008; Fariss Samarrai, “Cold war-era spy satellite images reveal possible effects of climate change,” Phys Org, 10 April 2017; “The Aral Sea, Before the Streams Ran Dry,” NASA Earth Observatory. Use imagery to analyse and report significant features and activity at military installations. 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. In a 19 June 2019 paper “Acceleration of ice loss across the Himalayas over the past 40 years,” the authors, reported on the use of HEXAGON KH-9 mapping camera imagery to improve their understanding of trends affecting the Himalayan glaciers from 1975 to 2016: “Himalayan glaciers supply meltwater to densely populated catchments in South Asia, and regional observations of glacier change over multiple decades are needed to understand climate drivers and assess resulting impacts on glacier-fed rivers. 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. 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: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/6/eaav7266. Stratfor Military Analyst Sim Tack explains a series of satellite images that show the construction of a Russian air base in Syria. This set of photos, declassified in 2002, consists of photographs from the KH-7 GAMBIT surveillance system and KH-9 HEXAGON mapping program. The KH-9 mapping camera was designed to support mapping requirements and exact positioning of geographical points. The US Armed Forces maintains international networks of satellites with ground stations located in various continents. KH-6 LANYARD image resolution was about 6 feet (1.8 meters). Duplicate film held in the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center archive is used to produce digital copies of the imagery for distribution to users. Work within an analyst team and as an individual imagery … The Atlas contains 833 archaeological sites. It is not possible to identify the exact number of these that are military satellites partly due to secrecy and partly due to dual purpose missions such as GPS satellites that serve both civilian and military purposes. Launch in Earth. A first military satellite named Noor is launched into orbit by Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, in Semnan, Iran April 22, 2020. When lives are at stake, defence and security-related decisions require accurate, actionable intelligence and a detailed understanding of the situation on the ground.  It used a constellation of five satellites and could provide a navigational fix approximately once per hour. 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. This program involved placing space stations in Earth orbit as an alternative to satellites. Dive … The original film is held by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Resolutions for the sensors in this section range between 0.3 meter (the highest commercially available) to 1 meter. Communications satellites are used for military communications applications. This set of photos, declassified in 1995, consists of more than 860,000 images of the Earth’s surface from the CORONA, ARGON, and LANYARD satellite systems. 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. Spy satellites have been with us since the dawn of the Space Age. Military Strategic and Tactical Relay, or Milstar, is a constellation of military satellites managed by the United States Air Force. Keyhole satellites are identified by a code word and a “KH” designator, as summarized in the following table. This is a difference between 22,000 miles for the GEO satellites, 5,000 miles altitude for the MEO satellites, and only 320 miles for the LEO satellites.” Naturally, it’s far cheaper to send a satellite to LEO than to GEO — which has led to an explosion of new small satellites being launched into orbit. It was the 4th largest lake in the world. Not only can you download the latest, greatest satellite imagery… but it’s all FREE. Experience Earth on any device See all Earth versions.  Corona was followed by other programs including Canyon (seven launches between 1968 and 1977), Aquacade and Orion (stated by US Government sources to be extremely large). The first successful CORONA film recovery occurred on 19 August 1960. Whoops. Three stations were launched between 1973 and 1976: Salyut 2, Salyut 3 and Salyut 5. A KH-12 is a $1 billion satellite that resembles the Hubble Space Telescope, except it is looking at our planet. It was rebuilt in 2005 and named the Kok-Aral Dam…..The North Aral has stabilized but the South Aral has continued to shrink and become saltier. Military Satellite and UAV Images Blog Global Hawk Captures Essential California Wildfires Images Source: U.S. Air Force | Posted 10.30.2007. The military reconnaissance satellite imagery, except from ARGON KH-5, is higher resolution than is available today from Landsat civilian earth observation satellites. The first launch of a DSP satellite was on 6 November 1970 with the 23rd and last launched 10 November 2007. Below are three screenshots of the USGS Earthshots pages showing the KH-5 images for the whole the Aral Sea, the North Aral Sea region and the South Aral Sea region. Typically military satellites operate in the UHF, SHF (also known as X-band) or EHF (also known as Ka band) frequency bands. 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. 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. Image resolution is 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 meters). 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. 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. The USGS explains: “The images were originally used for reconnaissance and to produce maps for U.S. intelligence agencies. 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. Military using 13 satellites to keep eye on foes; ... 712-kg Cartosat-2 series spacecraft is an advanced remote sensing satellite capable of providing scene-specific spot imagery. By Olivia Solon. 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: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/WCPD-1995-02-27/pdf/WCPD-1995-02-27-Pg304.pdf. 14 Aug 2014. 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. 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. 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. Use imagery to analyse and report on the status and activity of deployed military forces. The project floundered due to the lack of any mechanism to protect the satellites from attack resulting in the cancellation of Defender in 1968. Up until the 1960s, Aral Sea salinity was around 10 grams per liter, less than one-third the salinity of the ocean. In a 7 June 2016 article entitled, ”Spy satellites reveal early start to Antarctic ice shelf collapse,” Thomas Sumner reported: “Analyzing declassified images from spy satellites, researchers discovered that the downhill flow of ice on Antarctica’s Larsen B ice shelf was already accelerating as early as the 1960s and ’70s. The most common missions are intelligence gathering, navigation and military communications. About 18,000 black-and-white images and 230 color images are available. Additional reading related to US optical reconnaissance satellites. This set of photos, declassified in 2011, consists of more photographs from the KH-9 HEXAGON mapping program. In the United States the first formal military satellite programs, Weapon System 117L, was developed in the mid 1950s. 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. 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. 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. Only military sources, however, have access to images captured at the satellite's maximum ground resolution of 0.41 meters; Commercial clients' images are re-sampled at a 0.5-meter resolution. 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).. Since some of the major military activities of the U.S. army is in foreign territories, the U.S. government needs to subcontract satellite services to foreign carriers headquartered in areas with favorable climate.. “In regions like the Middle East, CORONA imagery is particularly important for archaeology because urban development, agricultural intensification, and reservoir construction over the past several decades have obscured or destroyed countless archaeological sites and other ancient features such as roads and canals. They are deployed in geostationary orbit and provide wideband, narrowband and protected military communication systems. 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. 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 first generation of U.S. photo intelligence satellites collected more than 860,000 images of the Earth’s surface between 1960 and 1972. 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. , Since October 1967 satellite based weapons systems have been limited by international treaty to conventional weapons only. This mission was a series of reconnaissance satellites, designed to enter orbit, take high-resolution photographs and then return the payload to Earth via parachute. Signal latency is a major concern in satellite communications, so geographic and meteorological factors play an important role in choosing teleports. Satellite imagery from Keyhole reconnaissance satellites is an important information source for national security-related GEOINT activities. While such imagery access is relatively rapid, it still prevents individuals and organizations from accessing data that needs to be more immediate.  The Corona program continued until 25 May 1972. Art.IV of the Outer Space Treaty specifically prohibits signatories from installing weapons of mass destruction in Earth orbit. The United Kingdom also operates military communication satellites through its Skynet system. Free satellite imagery download is available from GBLF via an FTP client.  Within this program a number of sub-programs were developed including Corona. Declassification of certain military reconnaissance satellite imagery. The USGS explains: “The images were originally used for reconnaissance and to produce maps for U.S. intelligence agencies. 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 … 7, July 2017. KH-7 image resolution is 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1.2 meters). Satellite imagery has become an effective tool for reporting in conflict zones. By Olivia Solon. 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. 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. The UK government is pushing ahead with its plans for a cluster of military radar satellites, placing a design study with Airbus. NGA’s predecessor agencies, with comparable missions, were: The NGA’s web homepage, at the following link: https://www.nga.mil/Pages/Default.aspx, The NGA’s webpage for declassified satellite imagery is here: https://www.nga.mil/ProductsServices/Pages/Imagery.aspx, 2. The US Navy required precise navigation to enable submarines to get an accurate fix of their positions before they launched their SLBMs. 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@example.com or from the National Archives at 301-837-1926 or firstname.lastname@example.org. In military parlance, this is ‘sensor to shooter’. Satellite Imagery Intelligence for Defence Operations. In the United States these satellites are operated by the Defense Support Program (DSP). Fo…  Satellites within the Corona program carried different code names. The table of contents to the Earthshots webpages is shown below and is at the following link: http:// https://earthshots.usgs.gov/earthshots/, For the Aral Sea region, the Earthshots photo sequences start with ARGON KH-5 photos taken in 1964. Wideband systems support high-bandwidth transfers. In the United States, research into satellite based weapons was initiated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s. A fourth ground-based station, at an undetermined position, could then use those signals to fix its location precisely. In 1976, NRO deployed its first electronic imaging optical reconnaissance satellite known as KENNEN KH-11 (renamed CRYSTAL in 1982), which eventually replaced the KH-9, and brought an end to reconnaissance satellite missions requiring film return. Additional sets of military reconnaissance satellite imagery were declassified in 2002 and 2011 based on extensions of Executive Order 12951. 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. There are five types of resolution when discussing satellite imagery in remote sensing: spatial, spectral, temporal, radiometric and geometric. The current Atlas focuses on the Middle East and a small area of Peru, and is derived from 1,024 CORONA images taken on 50 missions. KH-5 ARGON image resolution was about 460 feet (140 meters). And remember – if you just want to look at satellite imagery without downloading the data, check out our list of 25 satellite maps. 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.. 83, No. Create rapid IMINT products to support political and military decision makers. Real-time data is received, decoded and displayed within seconds of the satellite imaging an area. You can explore the Aral Sea Earthshots photo sequences at the following link: https://earthshots.usgs.gov/earthshots/node/91#ad-image-0-0.  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. The KH-11, or an advanced version sometimes referred to as the KH-12, is operational today. Bing Maps. , 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.. On a larger scale, free detailed satellite imagery can be retrieved via the Earth Science Data Interface (ESDI). In this case, data are available as quick as within 3 hours of when imagery was taken. Not all KH-9 satellite missions included a mapping camera. 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”): https://www.usgs.gov/centers/eros/science/usgs-eros-archive-products-overview?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects, 4. The big question for a lot of people is: "What can they see?" During the Cold War arms race, the nuclear threat was used to justify the cost of providing a more capable system. Combining this information with terrestrial data, such as mobile and location-based data, unlocks new sources of intelligence.”, The Orbital Insight website is here: https://orbitalinsight.com/company/, 5. Campbell (2002) defines these as follows: All military reconnaissance satellite imagery was highly classified until 1995, when some imagery from early defense reconnaissance satellite programs was declassified. Eight satellites took pictures on film roll, which were then parachuted back into the atmosphere, where a perfectly timed US military plane snatched it mid-air before it could be intercepted. China is constantly upgrading its military preparedness since the standoff with India began in eastern Ladakh in May. The first launches were code named Discoverer. The Soviet Union began the Almaz (Russian: Алмаз) program in the early 1960s. If you are just curious about seeing the most recent high-resolution image you can find for a given area of interest, and you don’t care about getting access to the raw images or using what you see for some commercial purpose, far-and-away the best tool you can use is Google Earth’s Explore New Satellite Imagery Tool. They are typically used to take overhead photos for military missions. All military reconnaissance satellite imagery was highly classified until 1995, when some imagery from early defense reconnaissance satellite programs was declassified. There have also been a number of subsequent programs including Magnum and Trumpet, but these remain classified and therefore many details remain speculative. Squadron Leader KK Nair, "Space: The Frontiers of Modern Defence", This page was last edited on 31 December 2020, at 03:40. High-resolution satellite imagery tracks the changing human footprint across the globe, including rapidly growing cities, urban sprawl, and informal settlements. There are four Skynet satellites in orbit, with the latest launch completed in December 2012.  It was abandoned after a Soviet Navy submarine was detected waiting beneath a mid-air retrieval zone in the Pacific Ocean. About 29,000 mapping images are available. 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. A military satellite is an artificial satellite used for a military purpose. Project Oberon, as it's known, has been in discussion for a while. Pinkmatter's FarEarth Global Observer presents a live view of Landsat imagery as it is downlinked by ground-stations around the world. ", "Release No: 65-333 : Project Geodetic Explorer-A", "Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies", United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, "Azerbaijan improves legal framework for space cooperation", "UK's Skynet military satellite launched", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Military_satellite&oldid=997358206, Articles with unsourced statements from January 2014, Articles containing Russian-language text, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
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