What is IKONOS?

The IKONOS satellite is world's first commercial 1-meter remote sensing satellite. (IKONOS (icon) means "image" in Greek.) Systems IKONOS satellite was built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems (Sunnyvale, Calif.) and was launched in 1999. Communications and image processing elements were built Raytheon Company (Garland, Texas). The camera was built by Eastman Kodak (Rochester, New York).

This high-quality data can be purchased from Spotimage for graduated rates based on the degree of ortho and other characteristics of the image qualtiy. Resolution panchromatic data enables users to allocate land details of up to one meter. Objects this small can be allocated, provided that objects sufficiently distant from other facilities and separate and distinct visual characteristics. One-meter images can not "see" some people.

However, careful timing of remote sensing with respect to the position of the sun can significantly enhance the visualization capabilities of one meter, in order to distinguish such small objects. Images of Afghanistan in the previous section were taken under lighting conditions under which the objectives are very different cast shadows. You actually look at soldiers marching in the shadow of the image shown on this page, not the soldiers themselves. (In the old days, before high resolution satellite images, satellites can be "spoofed" in the form of objects that were not actually exist using techniques such as painting the shadows of aircraft on runways, etc.)

IKONOS raises many interesting questions to display community. As a one-meter satellite imagery technology, developed by the government for secret purposes of intelligence gathering to find their way into the hands of a commercial company? Does this mean that other once limitations of GIS related data and technologies become available for display to the public? I was not able to determine if the IKONOS stereo pair is capable of creating suitable for the production of DEM. (Editor's Note, November 2003 -. This is possible) However, even if not, then this opportunity can be far behind? And it will be an invitation to the United States government to release more of its international data base of high-quality DEM?

One thing is for sure, with the advent of hostilities in Afghanistan, 1230 hours EDST October 7, 2002, expect to see much more IKONOS images in the news. Additional information on IKONOS, as well as more images are available on Space Imaging.

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