THEOS, the THailand Earth Observation System, ready for Launch
Yasny. – THEOS, the THailand Earth Observation Satellite developed by Astrium for the Thai Space Agency GISTDA (Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency) is expected to be launched on 6 August 2008 on board a Dnepr rocket from the Yasny launch site in Russia.
THEOS will observe the Earth from the same orbit as the French Spot-5 satellite at 820km altitude.
THEOS will be fully owned and operated by GISTDA and will provide Thailand with world-wide geo-referenced imagery. THEOS will also offer image processing capabilities for applications in cartography, land use, agricultural monitoring, forestry management, coastal zone monitoring and flood risk management. THEOS will provide access to any part of Thailand in less than 2 days.
The THEOS contract includes the production and launch of one optical satellite, the development of the ground segment necessary to operate and control the satellite directly from Thailand, and facilities for image archiving and processing. The THEOS satellite is based on the new generation of the Astrium Optical Earth Observation high performance satellites, the AstroSat product line, and benefits from Astrium’s extensive experience in this field which started with the first SPOT satellite 25 years ago. As part of the THEOS contract, Astrium and GISTDA have been working in close cooperation. Indeed, 20 Thai engineers joined the Astrium development team in Toulouse and attended intensive space programme training.
“This cooperation paves the way for further development of space activities in Thailand. After the Formosat-2 satellite, built for Taiwan, launched in May 2004 and the first Korean multi-function geostationary satellite “COMS”, THEOS is the third Earth observation spacecraft designed and manufactured for the Asia-Pacific region by Astrium, confirming our company’s leading position on the market”, explained François Auque, CEO of Astrium.
The THEOS satellite payload features both high resolution in panchromatic mode and wide field of view in multispectral mode and has been tailored to Thailand’s specific needs with a worldwide imaging capability.
GISTDA and Astrium have been working with different public organisations in Thailand for more than 2 years to demonstrate the benefits Thai authorities will gain with the THEOS programme and to pave the way for operational monitoring programmes to be set-up by the appropriate Thai authorities. An operational SPOT receiving station, hosted and operated by GISTDA, has been intensively used in preparation for THEOS (SPOT and THEOS images have very similar characteristics, with a higher resolution for THEOS). Among the main successful achievements:
* In the field of cartography, a professional 1/25 000 scale topographic map over the Rayong province was updated in just a few weeks by GISTDA and the Royal Thai Survey Department. A regular update of the 1/25 000 topographic data base at a national level has been proven feasible and cost-effective and is being discussed with the main ministries such as transport, tourism, agriculture, etc.
* In the field of agriculture, the Department of Agriculture, through the rice research centre located in Phitsanulok, will have the ability to monitor rice paddies at a regional level, to forecast the volume of water needed for irrigation and to provide recommendations to farmers with the aim of increasing production and therefore revenues.
* In the field of forestry, projects led in cooperation with the National Parks Department have proven the feasability of accurately maping Thai forests on an annual basis, for effective monitoring and support to the forest preservation policy.
* In the field of fisheries, shrimp farm monitoring based on SPOT images has been recognised by the Department of Fisheries as a major success, opening the door for new improvements expected to have a major impact on shrimp industry economics.
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