Advanced Imaging

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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

A View from Above

Remote sensing extends capabilities from military applications to supporting relief efforts
OrbView-5 satellite
Photo Courtesy of ORBIMAGE, Inc.
The OrbView-5 satellite that is planned to launch in early 2007 under the NextView contract.
A multi-spectral image of Sand Island
Photo Courtesy of ORBIMAGE, Inc.
A multi-spectral image of Sand Island, part of the US Midway Islands in the North Pacific Ocean between Honolulu and Hawaii.
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Remote sensing can be defined as satellites in orbit taking pictures of the Earth's surface, but it has become more involved than that. Space agencies from around the world have used satellite imagery to detect trends in the weather or shifts in the environment.

"We see the geospatial imaging market being driven by improved efficiency and economy in imagery management, workflow optimization and growing demand for imagery to employ in everyday tasks," states Wendy Watson, vice president of product management and marketing for Leica Geosystems GIS & Mapping LLC (Atlanta). "The market for geospatial imaging is expanding and responding to real-world demands for fast, accurate, detailed information."

Like so many other industries, satellite imaging companies such as ORBIMAGE Inc. (Dulles, VA) have resorted to outsourcing. "Why has this outsourcing trend occurred? In part, outsourcing allows the government to concentrate its personnel on core competencies, just as many corporations do, while taking advantage of the economic benefits and efficiencies that the commercial remote sensing industry has to offer," says Timothy Puckorius, ORBIMAGE's senior vice president, worldwide marketing and sales.

Over the past 12 months, ORBIMAGE received two contract awards from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA; Bethesda, MD). The first contract, dubbed the ClearView contract, awarded ORBIMAGE a minimum $27.5 million over two years to supply the NGA with high-resolution commercial satellite imagery and value-added products from its OrbView-3 satellite. The second contract, called NextView, is a second-vendor four-year deal worth about $500 million -- provided ORBIMAGE with its Orbview-5 next-generation high-resolution satellite.

"With the policy changes that resulted in the implementation of NGA's ClearView program and subsequently the NextView program, we now see a greater partnership with the U.S. government in meeting its global mapping needs," Puckorius says. "We also see parallel growth opportunities from the international marketplace. While the war on terror following the 9/11 attacks was a significant factor that led to the change in policy, which seeks greater support from the U.S. commercial remote sensing industry, it is also important to realize that our industry has now matured to the point where it can effectively support such critical needs -- now and for decades to come."

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