Space comes to the south

Venture Southland enterprise project manager Robin McNeill.
Venture Southland enterprise project manager Robin McNeill.

@devlincolle A space station near Invercargill will be the base for an international space imaging project.

The Awarua Satellite Ground Station has won the contract for the Planet-Labs pioneering earth observation project.

It will be one of only two stations in the world to download photographs of all the earth from space everyday.

The photos will be for the use of the public, commercial and humanitarian applications.

The Venture Southland-owned station will be used to control a constellation of 26 micro satellites and download the images.

Venture Southland enterprise project manager Robin McNeill said the 26 satellites would be deployed from the International Space Station during the next few weeks.

''It will be like having Google Earth in real time,'' he said.

Californian-owned company Planet-Labs is owned by former Google and former NASA staff had a different approach to space than other operators, Mr McNeill said.

It had probably invested hundreds of millions of United States dollars in software for the project, he said.

Foundations had been laid and engineering work had started at the Awarua station, which is used by the European Space Agency for tracking Ariane ATV missions.

Planet-Labs will install its equipment at the station next month and will start work at Awarua in March.

The company will store more than 10 million Mega-Pixels, the equivalent of more than one million digital camera snaps.


The Southland Times