Images from space provide some of the most valuable geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) for organizations charged with the difficult task of protecting national security. Overhead perspective and ability to image vast areas, including areas where aircraft and UAV are prohibited from flying, make satellites powerful tools for monitoring borders, studying infrastructure and defense capabilities, and responding to disasters.

MDA and DigitalGlobe, two Maxar Technologies companies, have focused for decades on providing mission partners with commercial space imagery to enhance national security. MDA specializes in synthetic aperture RADAR (SAR) imaging, which uses active energy emissions to image Earth’s surface. SAR has the distinct ability to image Earth regardless of weather and light conditions, allowing analysts to see land, sea, ice, manmade infrastructure, and even aircraft and ships through clouds and the night.

DigitalGlobe specializes in high resolution electro-optical (EO) imaging, which uses passive sensors to primarily image the sun’s energy reflecting off of Earth’s surface. EO has the unique ability to produce multi-spectral images using combinations of visual and infrared light and produce images that are natural in appearance. This makes objects easy to recognize by humans and their cognitive abilities. Analysts can also produce false color composites and multi-spectral indices with EO that go beyond human sight to reveal materials, such as plastics and minerals, and even sources of high heat.

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This diagram shows how electro-optical (EO) and synthetic aperture RADAR (SAR) sensors use passive versus active energy in different electromagnetic spectra to image Earth’s surface from space.[/caption]

Analysts are most capable when they can leverage both SAR and EO images together in their intelligence workflows. SAR, with its all-weather capability, can provide imaging on an assured cadence, such as new images of a location every week or even every day. And EO can provide context from historic images and more information about objects and activity as weather permits.

For this reason, DigitalGlobe’s SecureWatch, a powerful cloud-based GEOINT service subscribed to by dozens of defense and intelligence organizations around the world, now delivers both SAR and EO imagery. The web-based interface, API’s, and application plug-ins make it easy for analysts of all skill levels to access both types of imagery, extract information, and produce graphics that are ready for reports and briefings.

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MDA’s RADARSAT-2 (SAR) image of Lima, Peru from June 23, 2018, as delivered in the SecureWatch interface, showing activity regardless of weather and light conditions.[/caption]

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DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-2 (EO) image of Lima, Peru from March 25, 2018, as delivered in the SecureWatch interface, showing activity in high-resolution natural color.[/caption]

What is delivered through SecureWatch?

  • DigitalGlobe EO Imagery: SecureWatch delivers the company’s complete 100+ petabyte imagery library and all commercial daily collections from WorldView-1, WorldView-2, WorldView-3, WorldView-4, and GeoEye-1, for online viewing or on-demand archive retrieval.
  • MDA RADARSAT-2 Imagery: Starting today, MDA will deliver images of hundreds of sites around the world every week using Wide Ultra-Fine mode (3m ground sample distance, 50km swath). New images are fully processed and optimized for viewing, then they are delivered via SecureWatch for full resolution viewing and rapid downloading within 48 hours of collection.

For more information about SecureWatch, visit the product page:

For more information about RADARSAT-2, visit the product page:

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