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Satellites and Sensors

This table shows how these satellites and sensors relate to one other, as well as some basic features of each satellite and sensor.

                                                                                                                                 
Satellite Sensor Swath (km) Spatial resolution
(at nadir) (m)
No. of spectral bands Potential Revisit time (days)
OPTICAL
Landsat MSS 185 80 4 Not operational
TM 185 30; 120 7 Not operational
ETM+ 185 15; 30; 60 8 16
Resourcesat-1 (IRS-P6) LISS-III 141 23.5 4 24
AWiFS 740 56 4 24
ALOS PRISM 35 2.5 1 Not operational
AVNIR-2 70 10 4 Not operational
TERRA ASTER 60 15 - 90 14 variable
TERRA and Aqua MODIS 2330 250 - 1000 36 1-2
NOAA AVHRR 2399 1.1 7 1-2
SYNTHETIC APERTURE RADAR (SAR)
ERS SAR 100 20 1 Not operational
ALOS PALSAR 30 - 250 10 - 100 1 Not operational
RADARSAT RADARSAT 50 - 500 8 - 100 1 2 - 4
JERS SAR 75 18 1 Not operational

Current status of remote sensing satellites and sensors

The following information relates tothe current operational status of the satellites and sensors tracked at our Data Acquisition Facility (DAF) at Alice Springs and the Tasmanian Earth Resources Satellite Station (TERSS) facility in Hobart. These ground stations routinely acquire imagery on a daily basis from a range of Earth observation satellites. The data acquisition program is coordinated by Geoscience Australia's Earth Observation Client Services in Canberra.

ALOS

  • Launch date: 24 January 2006
  • Sensor data acquired:
    PRISM: Panchromatic Remote-sensing Instrument for Stereo Mapping
    AVNIR-2: Advanced Visible and Near Infrared Radiometer type 2
    PALSAR: Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar
  • Data reception commenced: May 2006
  • Satellite operator: Japanese Aerospace and Exploration Agency (JAXA)
  • Altitude: 692 km
  • Swath Width:
    PRISM:35 km triplet mode (70 km wide swath mode)
    AVNIR-2: 70 km
    PALSAR:70 km (up to 350 km for ScanSAR mode)
  • Orbit type: near polar, sun-synchronous
  • Orbit period: 99 minutes
  • Repeat cycle: 46 days
  • Equatorial Crossing Time: 10:30 am- 15 mins
  • Status of sensors: Nominal
  • Ceased transmitting data in April 2011  

Landsat 5

Reception from this satellite by Geoscience Australia (formerly ACRES) ceased on 31 December 1999.
Routine reception of Landsat 5 data recommenced 6 June 2003.

  • Launch date: 01 March 1984
  • Sensor data acquired:Thematic Mapper )TM)andMultispectral Scanner (MSS)
  • Data reception commenced: TM data from 1986 and MSS data from 1984
  • Satellite operator: US Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Altitude: 705 km
  • Swath Width: 185 km
  • Orbit type: near polar, sun-synchronous
  • Orbit period: 99 minutes
  • Repeat cycle: 16 days
  • Current crossing time: 0945 - 1020 local standard time
  • Future crossing time: 0950 - 1030 hrs (by mid 1996)
  • Equatorial Crossing Time: Currently progressively changing by approximately 20 seconds later for each 16 day cycle. This retrogression ceased in mid 1998 to provide an equatorial crossing time of approximately 1010 hrs, local time
  • TM sensor status: Nominal
  • Ceased transmitting TM data 18th November 2011 

Landsat 7

  • Launch date: 15 April 1999
  • Sensor data acquired:Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM)
  • Data reception commenced: ETM data from 06 July 1999
  • Satellite operator: US Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Altitude: 705 km
  • Swath Width: 185 km
  • Orbit type: near polar, sun-synchronous
  • Orbit period: 99 minutes
  • Repeat cycle: 16 days
  • Current crossing time over Australia: 1000 - 1025 local standard time
  • ETM sensor status: Anomaly with Scan Line Corrector. Images contain small gaps

TERRA MODIS

  • Launch date: 18 December 1999
  • Date test reception commenced: 12 April 2000
  • Date routine acquisition commenced: 08 May 2000
  • Sensor data acquired:Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)
  • Satellite operator: NASA
  • Altitude - at equator: 705 km
  • Swath width: 2300 km
  • Orbit type: near polar, sun-synchronous
  • Orbit period: 96.5 minutes
  • Repeat cycle: 16 days
  • Current crossing time: 1045 hrs local standard time (40 minutes after Landsat-7)
  • MODIS sensor status: Nominal
  • Special Notes: Data downlink will, at times, be switched off when the spacecraft is in view of the Tidbinbilla Deep Space Network Station, near Canberra, to avoid interference to Mars mission and other deep space satellite transmissions. This may affect paths over Eastern Australia, New Zealand and the Tasman Sea

AQUA MODIS

  • Launch date: 4 May 2002
  • Date routine acquisition commenced: 16 August 2002
  • Sensor data acquired:Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)
  • Satellite operator: NASA
  • Altitude - at equator: 705 km
  • Swath width: 2330 km
  • Orbit type: near polar, sun-synchronous
  • Orbit period: 98.8 minutes
  • Repeat cycle: 16 days
  • Current crossing time: 0230 - 0630 and 1430 - 1830 hrs local standard time
  • MODIS sensor status: Nominal

ERS-1

March 2000 Update: This satellite is currently not available. Operations ceased 10 March 2000

  • Launch date: 17 July 1991
  • Date reception commenced: September 1991
  • Sensor data acquired: SAR "C" band
  • Satellite operator: ESA
  • Altitude: 785 km
  • Swath width: 102.5 km
  • Orbit type: near polar, sun-synchronous
  • Orbit period: 100 minutes
  • Repeat cycle: 3,35,168 days
  • Current repeat cycle: 35 days
  • Current crossing time: 1000 - 1030 hrs local standard time
  • SAR sensor status: Not Available

ERS-2

  • Launch date: 20 April 1995
  • Date reception commenced: November 1995
  • Sensor data acquired: SAR "C" band
  • Satellite operator: ESA
  • Altitude: 785 km
  • Swath width: 102.5 km
  • Orbit type: near polar, sun-synchronous
  • Orbit period: 100 minutes
  • Repeat cycle: 35 days
  • Current repeat cycle: 35 days, positioned one day behind ERS-1 on the same track
  • Current crossing time: 1000 - 1030 hrs local standard time
  • SAR sensor status: Nominal
  • Operational status ceased 4th July 2011 

RADARSAT-1

  • Launch date: 1995
  • Date test reception commenced: March 1998
  • Sensor data acquired: "C" band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
  • Satellite operator: MDA (formerly RADARSAT International)
  • Altitude: 798 km
  • Swath width: variable (50 km to 500 km), depending on beam mode.
  • Orbit type: circular, sun-synchronous (descending/dawn, ascending/dusk)
  • Orbit period: 100.7 minutes
  • Repeat cycle: 24 days
  • Current crossing time: descending 0600 hrs, ascending 1800 hrs
  • SAR sensor status: Nominal

NOAA-17

  • Launch date: 24 June 2002
  • Date reception commenced: 15 October 2002
  • Sensor data acquired: AVHRR
  • Satellite operator: NOAA
  • Altitude: 850 km
  • Swath width: up to 3000 km
  • Orbit type: near polar, sun-synchronous
  • Orbit period: 101.2 minutes
  • Repeat cycle: 9 days at nadir
  • Current crossing time: 1000 - 1030, and 2300 - 2400 hrs local standard time
  • AVHRR Sensor Status: Nominal

Topic contact: earth.observation@ga.gov.au Last updated: January 28, 2014