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UK satellite makes HD colour movies of Earth – BBC News

Media captionMoving cars, lorries, boats and planes – seen from an altitude of 505km

A British spacecraft is now routinely making movies of the Earth’s surface.

Carbonite-2 was built by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in Guildford and launched in January.

It is the forerunner of a network of spacecraft that will be sent up in the years ahead to be operated by Earth-i, an analytics firm also of Guildford.

Carbonite’s short clips are the first high-definition, full-colour videos to be delivered from orbit by a commercial satellite on a regular basis.

The sequences have a resolution of one metre, which means the movement of cars, lorries, boats and planes is easily discerned.

To mark the end of the satellite’s commissioning phase, SSTL has released a number of videos that have been prepared with Earth-i.

These include views of Dubai Airport, Buenos Aires, Puerto Antofagasta, Rio de Janeiro, Diego Garcia and Mumbai Airport.

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Andrew Cawthorne, the director of Earth observation at SSTL, told BBC News: “We’ve made now coming up to 500 videos. We have an automated chain, which we had to fine-tune during commissioning, but now the files come down off the spacecraft and pop out a few minutes later.

“The way this satellite works is that it has to point at a target and hold its gaze, even though it’s flying overhead at several km per second. The longest video we’ve made so far is 60 seconds, and I think the accuracy of the pointing speaks for itself.”

Earth observation has long made use

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