TopSat image of the week: Indonesia

08 Jan 2007

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TopSat, the micro-satellite designed and built by a QinetiQ-led consortium of British firms, captured this image of Surabaya in Indonesia, the city from which rescue operations are being coordinated following a ferry disaster nine days ago. The ferry, the Senopati Nusantara, had 628 passengers and crew onboard when it sank on 30 December off the coast of Java.

Reports today suggest that 14 people have been picked up by a passing ship, bringing the number of survivors rescued so far to 250. People have been known to survive for days in Indonesia's tropical waters which range between 22oC and 29oC (72oF to 84oF.)

The sinking is the first of two disasters to affect Surabaya in recent days. A Boeing 737-400 aircraft also disappeared on route from Surabaya to Manado.

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.

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TopSat image of the week: Indonesia