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Outside View: Russia's new sats -- Part 2

The Yamal EO bus
by Yury Zaitsev
Moscow (UPI) Dec 5, 2007
Space-based Earth observation is important for monitoring oil and gas facilities. Combined with geological surveys and production data, satellite images provide reliable information that oil and gas companies can use to organize and speed up production.

This makes it advisable to shift some of the financial burden to commercial firms interested in the use of such systems. One is Gascom, a telecommunications arm of Russian energy giant Gazprom, which developed and is operating the Yamal satellite communications and broadcasting system.

In choosing the pipeline routes, for example, information from satellites can reduce laying costs by 15-30 percent.

The 2006-2015 program also includes a space-monitoring and mapping project called Smotr, designed to help companies explore and develop gas deposits, and subsequently produce and transport gas and condensate.

The system is being developed by the Energia Space and Rocket Corp.

The project differs fundamentally from other Earth-observation programs: It contains several spacecraft with diverse equipment, two optoelectronic craft for detailed and panoramic observation; and two or three radar spacecraft for all-weather monitoring.

Although its primary goal is to serve the oil and gas industry, the system will be able to provide surveying for all branches of the economy.

The system layout is governed by weather conditions in areas where the main gas facilities are located. Most regions exhibit virtually solid cloud coverage for about 70-80 percent of the time. Many oil and gas facilities are located north of the Arctic Circle, where observation in the visible spectrum is impossible during the long polar night.

Hence, synthetic aperture radar was chosen as the main observational instrument for the system, allowing all-weather and round-the-clock monitoring.

The radar tandem also offers the unique possibility of obtaining so-called radio-interferograms -- essential for building high-precision digital models of the terrain.

Radar satellites also help to map earth subsidence in pipeline laying areas.

The active life of each spacecraft is no less than seven to 10 years. To pick up images from the Smotr system it is planned to use not fewer than three ground stations strategically placed across Russia in such a way as to ensure continuous reception at every stage of orbit.

The system is scheduled to be deployed in 2009-2010 -- or tomorrow, by the standards of the space industry. This is a tall order, especially as some of the systems -- an optoelectronic monitoring capability with submeter resolution, for example -- will have to be developed from scratch.

Stringent requirements for orientation and stabilization will also need an improved system of spacecraft guidance and navigation.

(Yury Zaitsev is an analyst at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Space Research. Ths article is reprinted by permission of the RIA Novosti news agency. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.)

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

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Use Space Technology And IT For Rural Development
New Delhi (PTI) Dec 05, 2007
The Administrative Reforms Commission has recommended the use of space technology and global information systems by local bodies in villages and cities to hasten growth and increase efficiency and transparency in services. In the latest recommendations submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Commission headed by Veerappa Moily cited the example of Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh and Qatar, a Middle East nation which saw explosive growth of infrastructure in last two decades, which have used space technology for growth.

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