QuickBird Imagery Courtesy: DigitalGlobe

DigitalGlobe’s QuickBird satellite offers sub-meter resolution imagery. Previously at an operational altitude of 482 km, QuickBird is currently operating at an altitude of 450 km and will continue in an gradual descent until its end of mission life at an altitude of 300 km.

QuickBird provides commercial imagery at 0.61 m (PAN) and at 2.4 m (MS) resolution. A successful launch of QuickBird took place on Oct. 18, 2001 on a Delta-2 vehicle of Boeing from Vandenberg Air Force Base, USA.


In 2001 the QuickBird project of DigitalGlobe opted for a fairly low orbital altitude of 450 km (from the previous 600 km altitude level) to obtain a higher ground spatial resolution of the imagery; however, at the expense of swath width. Naturally, the low orbit of 450 km requires more orbit raising maneuvers due to the increased drag influence of the atmosphere. The argument went that the S/C carries enough fuel to adjust the lower orbit more frequently over the operational lifetime of the mission. (source: eoportal.org)


Launch informationDate: October 18, 2001
Launch vehicle: Delta II
Launch Site: SLC-2W, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Mission lifeExtended through mid-2014
Spacecraft size2400 lbs, 3.04 m (10 ft) in length

Altitude 450 kmAltitude 300 km
OrbitType: Sun-synchronous, 10:00 am descending node10:00 am descending node
Period: 93.6 minPeriod: 90.4 min
Sensor resolution and spectral bandwidthPanchromatic: 61 cm GSD at nadirPanchromatic: 41 cm GSD at nadir
B&W: 405 – 1053 nm
Multispectral: 2.44 m GSD at nadirMultispectral: 1.63 m GSD at nadir
Blue: 430 – 545 nm
Green: 466 – 620 nm
Red: 590 – 710 nm
Near IR: 715 – 918 nm
Dynamic range11-bits per pixel
Swath widthNominal swath width: 16.8 km at nadirNominal swath width: 11.2 km at nadir
Attitude determination and controlType: 3-axis stabilized Star tracker/IRU/reaction wheels, GPS
Retargeting agilityTime to slew 200 km: 38 sec44 sec
Onboard storage128 Gb capacity
CommunicationsPayload data: 320 Mbps X-band
Housekeeping: X-band from 4,16 and 256 Kbps, 2 Kbps S-band uplink
Revisit frequency (at 40°N latitude)2.4 days at 1 m GSD or less2.1 days at 1 m GSD or less
5.9 days at 20° off-nadir or less8.7 days at 20° off-nadir or less
Metric accuracy23 m CE90, 17 m LE90 (without ground control)
Capacity200,000 km2 per day100,000 km2 per day

A QuickBird image showing Pyramid of Menkaure, the Pyramid of Khafre and the Great Pyramid of Khufu. All these pyramids are located in Giza, Egypt. Image Courtesy: DigitalGLobe
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