TopSat, the micro-satellite designed and built by a QinetiQ-led consortium of British firms, captured this image of Vancouver International Airport, the first commercial airport in the world to install and operate QinetiQ's Tarsier Foreign Object Debris (FOD) radar detection system.
The Tarsier system provides the airport with 24-hour automated runway debris detection in all weather conditions.Vancouver International Airport is located on Sea Island in the Fraser River Estuary. The image shows the Fraser River as it flows out into the Strait of Georgia and then onto the Pacific Ocean. The estuary is one of the four major migratory routes in North America used by waterfowl. More than one million birds use the estuary during peak migration periods. The image was captured by TopSat, a micro-satellite system that provides high resolution imaging of the Earth quickly and cost effectively. The satellite is designed to return its data directly to a mobile ground station immediately after collecting an image, allowing far more timely delivery of the information which it collects than standard satellites. The system is specifically designed to meet operational timescales, whether for disaster relief, news-gathering, or other applications where speed of response is vital. The UK consortium behind TopSat was formed and is led by QinetiQ, a global defence and security company who own the satellite and are responsible for day-to-day operations. It also includes CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory who designed and built the camera, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) who built the spacecraft bus and Infoterra who are responsible for data exploitation. The programme, originally funded by the British National Space Centre (BNSC) and the UK Ministry of Defence, is now a commercial venture.
Author: David Bishop
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