TopSat image of the week: Mount Etna

20 Feb 2007

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Reproduced images should include the credit: “Courtesy of the TopSat Consortium, copyright QinetiQ’.

The image of Mount Etna was captured by TopSat, a micro-satellite built and operated by a QinetiQ-led consortium of British firms.

Mount Etna is an active volcano on the east coast of Sicily. The largest active volcano in Europe, standing just short of 11,000 ft high, Mount Etna is in an almost constant state of eruption.

TopSat is a micro-satellite system that provides high resolution imaging of the Earth quickly and at low cost. 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, an international defence and security technology 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: Mount Etna