- DEIMOS 1 was launched in July 2009 and was the first European Earth-observation satellite to be funded exclusively by private capital
- The satellite’s operations are controlled from the Boecillo Technology Park in Valladolid
- DEIMOS 1’s unique achievements include a full inventory of the world’s tropical rainforests, carried out for the European Space Agency
Elecnor, through its technological division Elecnor Deimos, has presented a report on the first two years in orbit of the DEMIOS 1 Earth-observation satellite. The presentation was attended by the current councilor for Economy and Employment in the Government of Castilla-León, Tomás Villanueva.
Launched on 29 July 2009 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, over the last two years DEIMOS 1 has orbited the Earth over 10,700 times and has travelled around 450 million kilometres, which is three times greater than the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Since its launch, the satellite has recorded 7,800 images of the Earth, creating a data archive that would cover an area of over 690 million km2 (nearly five times larger than the Earth’s total land mass).
After the launch, and following an initial test period to check that all its systems were functioning correctly, the first image was obtained at the beginning of August 2009. The calibration stage then began, in which all the satellite’s cameras were calibrated in order to ensure the images it recorded were of the very highest quality. This process was then followed by a manoeuvring period to place the satellite in an optimum position. The final result of all these complex technical processes was the declaration, in early 2010, that the system was fully operational.
In the words of Javier Martínez de Irujo, CEO of Elecnor Deimos, “although the launch into orbit and optimisation of such a complex satellite system is certainly remarkable, what has been truly important during these two years of operation is the great number of applications for the data gathered by DEIMOS 1, applications which range from agriculture to the environment by way of defence, climate change, deforestation, the fight against natural disasters and the control of water resources”.
In 2010, DEIMOS 1 carried out a full inventory of the Earth’s tropical rainforests on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA) and throughout 2011 it has continued to work for the European Union and the ESA as part of the GMES programme, providing complete coverage of Africa.
This year, DEIMOS 1 was also chosen by the US Department of Agriculture to provide complete monthly coverage of the United States, thereby enabling monitoring via satellite of the country’s agriculture industry.
The subsidiary company Elecnor Deimos Imaging is directly responsible for the development, operation and commercial exploitation of the satellite. Its CEO, Pedro Duque, stated that “we have been gaining more clients and have achieved sales in countries in five different continents, to organisations that have expressed on numerous occasions their great satisfaction with, and recognition of, the exceptional quality of the images we have provided”.
Among DEIMOS 1’s most outstanding achievements during its first two years of operation is the distinction of being the first satellite to provide United Nations relief agencies with images of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on 4 March, thus assisting the agencies in their rescue efforts. DEIMOS 1 has played an important role in helping to deal with a number of natural disasters, including the flooding in Jerez and Asturias in 2010, the forest fire in Benicolet, Valencia, in April 2011, the recent fires in Arizona and the floods caused by the Mississippi River in the United States.
The Role of Boecillo
DEIMOS 1 has turned Elecnor Deimos into the foremost operator of observation satellites in Spain and one of the global leaders in the field. The efforts of the team at Ground Control, Process and Applications at the Boecillo Technology Park in Valladolid have been key to achieving this success: in the words of Pedro Duque, the team “has shown that they are highly prepared and capable of adapting to any circumstances”.
The satellite is controlled from Boecillo, which is also where potential problems with the satellite or its monitoring stations are solved and where downloaded images are processed and then converted into real applications of interest to the company’s clients.
As stated by the CEO of Elecnor Deimos, “the experience accumulated at Boecillo by the operations and image-processing teams and the developers of added-value products is unmatched anywhere in the world, and allows us to look to the future with optimism. The infrastructure created here at the technology park will also be key to the success of our second satellite, DEIMOS 2, a project that is now being implemented and which will pose a new technological challenge”.