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China's Next Generation Earth Observation Satellites Have Unmatched Scanning Speed

The new generation of China's Earth observation satellites has unrivaled scanning speed and far surpasses the capabilities of the latest generation of America's WorldView-4 satellites, sources say . The Beijing-3 satellites capture a wider swath and capture images during such fast maneuvers that were previously impossible, which indicates the highest degree of stabilization of the scanning systems.

China's Next Generation Earth Observation Satellites Have Unmatched Scanning Speed

Image source: SCMP

The CAST3000E platform of the Beijing-3 satellites allows you to take images of the Earth's surface from an altitude of 500 km in motion with a rotation of 10 degrees per second. The maneuvers can be so varied that the satellite is capable of taking pictures of an extremely intricate shape in one pass. As an example, a survey of the Yangtze River channel with a length of 6300 km in one span from north to south is given. Conventional observation satellites are incapable of this, working only with a narrow strip of the surface in one revolution.

But maneuverability alone cannot explain the high efficiency of observation. Onboard Beijing-3 is AI, which controls the onboard equipment and builds the observation trajectory. The on-board computer is able to track up to 500 areas per day with visits to each up to 100 times during this time. No autonomous satellite observation platform in the world is capable of such a thing. Only as part of a group of satellites, while one Beijing-3 does all the work himself.

Where Beijing-3 is inferior to the American WorldView-4 is in resolution. The more than 1 meter WorldView-4 mirror from Lockheed Martin allows you to capture images with a resolution of 30 cm of the surface per pixel. The Beijing-3 resolution is 50 cm per pixel. True, the American WorldView-4, launched in 2016, suddenly stopped communicating in 2019, and was declared lost. Therefore, Beijing-3 has no existing analogues today. Moreover, the Chinese are talking about a cheaper and lighter solution, which is important from the point of view of putting the load into space.


The Beijing-3 satellite can store 1 TB of data on board and transmit information to Earth at a speed of 1 GB / s, which is also incapable of competing satellite systems. Overall, it is up to 3 times faster than the WorldView-4 platform. The Beijing-3 satellite captured the Bay of San Francisco with the city in 42 seconds, which is 3800 km 


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