MOSCOW. (Yury Zaitsev, for RIA Novosti). Leading Russian satellite producer TsSKB Progress is putting the finishing touches to the Resurs-DK1, a new-generation earth observation imaging satellite.
The first commercial launch is scheduled for the third quarter of this year.
High-resolution imagery has always been in great demand both in Russia and abroad.
"In strengthening our role on the world market for geographic information systems, we rely on a new project based on the Resurs-DK1," Alexander Kirilin, general director of the Samara-based enterprise, said. "[This project] will upgrade our customers' information technology."
The multispectral, spectrozonal satellite photographs the Earth's surface and transmits high-resolution images back to Earth via a real-time downlink system as it passes overhead. Its data will update and improve existing digital maps, and make it possible to survey natural resources (forests, waters, arable land, minerals etc.), to provide environmental monitoring, and to acquire real-time information on natural disasters or emergencies.
This is the first downlink system in its class to combine a state-of-the-art satellite with elaborate and highly specialized ground infrastructure that includes not only receiving stations but also processing and fast-to-market hardware.
In terms of performance, the satellite is on the cutting edge of international earth-observation technology. Apart from a high-speed downlink, it has extensive onboard memory to reproduce images for many customers over a long period of time. Its margin of safety in terms of weight, payload and energy consumption is broad enough to accommodate auxiliary devices for additional research programs.
One of the programs to which the Resurs-DK1 will contribute is the Pamela experiment, part of the Russian-Italian Mission (RIM) - also supported by Germany, Sweden and the United States - that is looking for traces of early days of the Universe.
Professor Arkady Galper, the Russian co-director of the project, says research will focus on the dark matter.
"We know that dark matter, or hidden mass, accounts for 30% of the Universe. The other 70% is space vacuum energy, directed against gravity, driving the indefinite expansion of the Universe," Galper said. "The primary aims of the RIM Pamela experiment will be to get a toehold inside the mystery world called dark matter, and to measure the masses of its elementary particles, if there are any."
The Earth observation satellite will also carry equipment for the Arina mission, an attempt to get a better insight into electromagnetic field fluctuations, so far a puzzling phenomenon believed to be a credible precursor of an earthquake.
The Resurs-DK1 is expected to blast off on a Soyuz launch vehicle from Baikonur, a Russian space center in Kazakhstan.
Yury Zaitsev is an analyst at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Space Research Institute.