Science & Technology

Chile receives 1st images from new satellite system

Santiago, Sep 6 (EFE).- Chilean authorities on Monday received the first images from their new National Satellite System (SNSAT), technology that will allow the country to gather geological information from space to benefit the agricultural sector, risk management, the environment and mining.

The images come from a constellation of more than 250 satellites manufactured and put into space by Israel’s ISI Imagesat company, to which Chile has had access since in November 2020 it signed an agreement with the firm thus creating the SNSAT strategic partnership.

Besides access to the Israeli satellites, SNSAT includes the construction and placement into orbit in the coming years of 10 satellites that will make up an exclusively Chilean group of satellites and will replace the single Chilean satellite currently in orbit, the FaSat-Charlie, which more than four years ago came to the end of its useful life and will be shut down.

“The downloading of the first satellite image marks an important advance for our country. Access to these satellite constellations gives us a new strategic capacity for earth observation with images in the infrared, multi-spectrum, hyper-spectrum and radar ranges,” said Chilean Science minister Andres Couve during the event.

“The processing of the geospatial data will enable us to expand the use of this information beyond security and sovereignty, opening up new knowledge applications – for example, to deal with challenges like drought, urban development and predicting forest fires,” he added.

Along with the science and technology minister, participating in the event were Agriculture Minister Maria Emilia Undurraga, Public Works Minister Alfredo Moreno, Defense Minister Baldo Prokurica and Mining and Energy Minister Juan Carlos Jobet.

The latter two cabinet officials signed an agreement designed to foster the use of space technology in the mining sector.

“This new satellite system will allow us to have more finetuned knowledge of (Chilean) territory, which will be very important for the exploitation of minerals. With these satellites, we’ll also be able to identify and prevent possible emergency scenarios that come about due to volcanic activity or via landslides,” Jobet said.

In like manner, the energy chief emphasized that the space images will broaden knowledge of Chilean territory and will allow officials to see where there is greater potential for developing energy sources to replace fossil fuels.

Construction of the new Chilean satellites is already under way and the plan is to produce three minisatellites of about 100 kilograms (220 pounds) and seven microsatellites of up to 20 kg (44 pounds) by 2025. Of those 10 satellites, eight are slated to be assembled in Chile.

The first three minisatellites (Fasat Delta,Fasat Echo 1 and Fasat Echo 2) will be launched between 2021 and 2024 by the US firm Space X.

The seven microsatellites will be built in Chile in cooperation with Chilean universities and their launches are scheduled as follows: one in 2023, three in2024 and three in 2025, with Space X also sending the devices into orbit.

The program also includes the creation of research agencies that will allow the creation of knowledge on geological phenomena using Big Data, as well as radar technology and long-term monitoring of geological processes within Chile.

In addition, the construction of three earth-based satellite monitoring stations is being considered in Antofagasta, Santiago and Punta Arenas that will let technicians control the country’s satellites as well as download images in real time.

EFE ssb/rfg/ares/bp

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