Satellite Now in Orbit

Armação dos Búzios as seen by the CBERS 4 China-Brazil Earth Resources satellite

INPEArmação dos Búzios as seen by the CBERS 4 China-Brazil Earth Resources satellite INPE

The CBERS-4 remote sensing satellite, the result of cooperation between Brazil and China, was successfully launched on December 7, 2014 from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in China, 700 kilometers from Beijing. The first images from the MUX multi-spectral camera, recorded the very next day after launch, showed the region of Armação dos Búzios on the coast of Rio de Janeiro State. The MUXCam, developed and manufactured in Brazil, has a 20-meter resolution and records images in different spectral bands—blue, green, red, and infrared—for use in applications such as water and forest resource monitoring. Brazil is also responsible for the Wide Field Imager (WFI) camera, able to perform frequent assessments and specially designed for monitoring and surveillance. China is responsible for the Infrared System (IRS) imager, a mechanical scanning sensor with 40-meter spatial resolution on the panchromatic band, and the PanMUX, with higher resolution but only 5 meters on that same band. There are a number of applications for these images, such as monitoring deforestation in Amazônia, mapping agricultural crops, and depicting the expansion of cities, as well as studying hydrographic basins. Starting in March 2015, when the testing phase concludes, the images will be made available to users on the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) website. The cooperation between Brazil and China goes back to 1999, when the first CBERS satellite was launched. The series of images was interrupted in 2010, however, when the third satellite in the family, the CBERS 2-B, stopped functioning. Transmission should have resumed in 2013, but the new generation CBERS-3 was never able to reach orbit, owing to failure of the Chinese rocket. According to INPE, responsible for building the satellite, Brazil has invested about R$320 million in CBERS-3 and CBERS-4 contracts signed with domestic manufacturers.