Soyuz launches Pleiades satellite in French Guiana
By Ghanizada - Sat Dec 17 2011, 9:13 am
Saturday, December 17, 2011 – A Soyuz rocket carrying six satellites has been launched from French Guiana in the Russian-built rocket’s second mission this year.
The satellites weigh a total of more than 4,400 pounds (2,000 kilograms).
The Soyuz put six satellites in orbit, including France’s new Pleiades-1 high-resolution imaging spacecraft.
The rocket will first release a French Earthobservation satellite followed by four French micro-satellites. A Chilean Earth observation satellite will be released last.
Pleiades is designed to provide images to military and civilian customers, while the four smaller satellites will be used to gather electronic intelligence for the military, according to Arianespace.
The spacecraft’s sensor actually has a resolution of 70cm, but image processing will recover detail that is around the half-metre mark.
According to Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) , the Pleiades satellites each carry a Korsch telescope with a primary mirror 2.1 feet in diameter. Its CCD detectors are 40 times more sensitive to light than those in standard consumer digital cameras.
Built by Astrium of France, Pleiades 1 will collect up to 450 images per day with a peak resolution of 70 centimeters, or about 2.3 feet. CNES says special processing can sharpen the images to a resolution of 50 centimeters, or less than 20 inches, placing the satellite among the top commercial observation platforms worldwide.