Saturday, October 03, 2009

Vandenberg, AFB to launch WorldView-2 Thursday

The first commercial high resolution earth imaging satellite is just days away from heading into orbit to begin taking the finest detailed pictures of our big blue marble.

DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-2 will launch into a polar orbit around the earth, and operate from it's perch 478 miles using an eight-band color spectrum for the finest quality images. A polar orbit is when a satellite travels from north pole to south pole.

Liftoff of a United Launch Alliance Delta 2-7920-10 rocket from Vandenberg, Air Force Base in California is set for this Thursday, October 8 at 2:38 pm EDT (11:38 am local time) -- the beginning of a 14 minute launch window.

The Delta 2 will use nine strap-on solid rocket boosters to assist in the climb to place the WorldView-2 in orbit. Six will ignite at lift-off and later separate 86 seconds into the ascent. Meanwhile, 65 seconds after launch three boosters will ignite after clearing MAX-Q, the period of maximum pressure on the rocket where the speed of the rocket and the earth's atmosphere present the most dynamic pressures on the Delta 2.

WorldView-2 will be launched into a 98.5 degree inclination orbit so that it can photograph over 95% of the earth's surface. These new images will be used during the coming years to assist in improving our maps; from construction layouts to ecological improvement planning; oil and new fuel exploration and will assist in studying recent climate effects on our planet such as the polar ice caps.

The 5,765 pound WorldView-2 satellite will be able to scan about 376,000 square miles as it orbits sections of the earth each day. It will be able to store up to 2,190 GB (giga-bytes) of data, and then relay the stored images down to a ground station at a speed of 800 Mbps (megabytes per second). There are 1,024 MB in one GB.

If you use Google maps or have a GPS in your car or cellular phone, you will see improved details in the land region maps you use to navigate across.

In September 2007, a Delta 2 launched the WorldView-1 from the California launch site.

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