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SPOT satellite launched.

SPOT satellite launched

The French SPOT earth-observation satellite, designed to photograph surface details as small as 10 meters across, is now being checked out in orbit following a successful Feb. 21 launch by a European Ariane rocket. The photos, obtainable at a variety of spectral wavelengths, are to be about three times as sharp as those available to civilian-sector users of images from the U.S. Landsats.

The launching, formerly scheduled for last Oct. 15, had been delayed following a malfunction of the previous Ariane rocket, which had to be destroyed in midair from the ground following the failure of its third stage to ignite. Additional delay resulted from the discovery of cracks in the next Ariane's second-stage fuel tank.

Initial images from SPOT, which are available both in visible light and in a group of three bands that extend through the near-infrared, have already been received on earth. Once the satellite has completed its planned 60-day checkout, its data will be made available for sale to both private and government users, who can obtain them as either photos or computer-compatible digital tapes. Users will be able to request that images be made of specific locations, or they can select pictures if available from the data base of SPOT Image Corp., in Reston, Va., which is marketing the data from the French space agency (CNES) satellite.

Along with SPOT, the same Ariane booster also successfully lofted Viking, a Swedish scientific satellite.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 1, 1986
Words:241
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