Little eye to make big impact

An innovative new camera, costing a fifth of the price of other comparable cameras, will fly on top of Topsat – Tactical Optical Satellite – one of three new small satellite projects recently announced by Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury.

The camera, designed and developed at the CLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory will produce black and white images with 2.5 metre resolution and colour images of 5 metre resolution.

The 100 kg microsatallite will be built by Surrey Satellite Technology and managed by Defence Evaluation Research Agency. The satellite, co-funded by the British National Space Centre and the Ministry of Defence, will be launched in early 2003.

The decision by the BNSC to fund the satellite will allow the UK to develop the innovative and low cost alternative to the current expensive optical satellites. It will also allow users to understand better how to apply such imagery.

The microsatellite will continuously observe the earth to provide low cost, relatively high resolution images direct to local users wherever they need them.

It is anticipated that the camera will be used to monitor world agriculture, natural disasters, pollution control and similar scenarios where a global window on the world would be advantageous.