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Category Archives: Remote Sensing Law Current Events

Event: Digital Society and Satellite Applications

Digital Society and Satellite Applications will be held on June 12, 2014 in Belfast:

This conference will feature hands-on, successful business cases shared by SMEs who created innovative digital products and services using geospatial services (satellite images, satnav) or satcoms, and by public authorities, museums, educational facilities and others users.

SMEs who can create digital content and services that change the way knowledge is produced, managed, shared and experienced, and public administrations who use these services, are the main drivers of the rapidly-growing digital economy.

Satellite-derived information, geo-location and satcom services are ever cheaper and more readily available, thanks, in part, to European investments in satellite infrastructure. SMEs can use satellite services to create new digital products and services or enhance their existing offer.

Landsat Continuity Mission Launched

Yesterday, The Landsat Data Continuity Mission was launched and Landsat 5 entered the Guinness Book of World Records. Here’s a quick rundown of commentary:

NASA Launches New Earth Observation Satellite to Continue 40-Year Legacy – NASA

Landsat 5 Sets Guinness World Record – NASA Watch

US launches Earth observation satellite – Space Daily

Landsat in Space – The Oringinal Rocket Dungeon

Landsat 8 Launched Today as Landsat 5 Enters Guinness World Records-UPDATE – Space Policy Online

Interior Prepares to Conduct Landsat 8 Scientific Programs After Successful Launch of Latest Earth-Observing Satellite – SpaceRef

Landsat 5 Receives Guinness World Record – Red Orbit

Landsat Data Continuity Mission now in orbit – GeoConnexion

GeoEye and DigitalGlobe to Merge

Source – Washington Post:

Posted at 10:49 AM ET, 07/23/2012
GeoEye, DigitalGlobe combine in $900M deal
By Steven Overly

Herndon-based GeoEye has agreed to combine with competitor DigitalGlobe in an agreement worth $900 million as the satellite imagery companies face a federal budget cut to one of their most lucrative contracts. . . . [full story]

US Air Force Instruction Re: Domestic Commercial Imagery and Domestic Archived Imagery

Source: Secrecy News

Instruction available at Federation of American Scientists


23 APRIL 2012


3.4. This instruction applies to non-intelligence units or staffs, such as Eagle Vision, operating systems that acquire and disseminate commercial satellite products to intelligence units and staffs. 9. Domestic Imagery. Air Force components may, at times, require newly collected or archived domestic imagery to perform certain missions. Domestic imagery is defined as any imagery collected by satellite (national or commercial) and airborne platforms that cover the land areas of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, and the territories and possessions of the US, to a 12 nautical mile seaward limit of these land areas. 9.1. Collecting information on specific targets inside the US raises policy and legal concerns that require careful consideration, analysis and coordination with legal counsel. Therefore, Air Force components should use domestic imagery only when there is a justifiable need to do so, and then only IAW EO 12333, the National Security Act of 1947, as amended, DoD10 AFI14-104 23 April 2012 5240.1-R, and this instruction. The following generally constitute legally valid requirements for domestic imagery:

9.1.1. Natural Disasters. Locations in support of government planning for, emergency response to, or recovery from events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, mudslides, fires, and other natural disasters.

9.1.2. Counterintelligence, Force Protection, and Security-related Vulnerability Assessments. Requirements in support of critical infrastructure analysis on federal or private property where consent has been obtained as appropriate.

9.1.3. Environmental Studies. Requirements in support of studies of wildlife, geologic features, or forestation, or similar scientific, agricultural, or environmental studies not related to regulatory or law enforcement actions.

9.1.4. Exercise, Training, Testing, or Navigational Purposes. Requirements for imagery coverage in support of system or satellite calibration, sensor evaluation, algorithm or analytical developments and training or weapon systems development or training.

9.2. Domestic Imagery from National Satellites. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is responsible for the legal review and approval of requests for the collection and dissemination of domestic imagery from national satellites. Air Force components must follow policy and procedures established in the National System for Geospatial Intelligence Manuals CS 9400.07, Domestic Imagery. Air Force components must submit a PUM each year to NGA that defines the requirements for domestic imagery, outlines its intended use, and includes a proper use statement acknowledging awareness of legal and policy restrictions regarding domestic imagery. NGA will review the PUM to ensure it constitutes a legally valid requirement for domestic imagery. Air Force components must submit a Domestic Imagery Request (DIRs) to NGA for any ad hoc domestic imagery requirements that fall outside the scope of an approved PUM.

9.3. Domestic Imagery from all DoD imagery Satellite Platforms. An approved PUM must be on file with the appropriate Combatant Command, per their procedures, or with the appropriate Air Force MAJCOM or FOA (or delegated/designated sub-component PUM authority) before airborne or tactical DoD satellite platforms can be tasked to collect domestic imagery. Note that Tactical Satellites (TacSats) are considered to be “airborne” platforms. These PUMs must be IAW the format instructions found in Attachment 4. Approval for PUM requests is hereby delegated to MAJCOM and FOA commanders. Legal review at MAJCOM/FOA level is required before approval and reviews should be filed with the approved PUM requests. In the event of an emergency or crisis where US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) is designated as lead DoD Operational Authority, all related requests for domestic imagery from airborne or tactical DoD satellite platforms must be coordinated with USNORTHCOM to ensure compliance with proper use provisions. Air Force components must submit a PUM request through the MAJCOM to the designated approval authority for any ad hoc DIR. (see paragraph 9.6. for an exception to this paragraph).

9.4. Domestic Imagery from Commercial Satellites. Air Force intelligence components may obtain domestic commercial imagery without higher-level approval for valid mission purposes such as training or testing on federally owned and operated ranges, calibration- AFI14-104 23 April 2012 11 associated systems development activities, and domestic disaster relief operations. However, an internal memorandum for record (MFR) describing the purpose of the domestic imagery and the component official approving the use should be retained on file. If obtained imagery specifically identifies a US person (include private property), then the rules and procedures contained in DoD 5240-1.R, in particular those regarding retention, must be followed. Air Force intelligence components must not conduct or give the appearance of conducting collection, exploitation or dissemination of commercial imagery or imagery associated products for other than approved mission purposes.

9.5. Distribution of Domestic Imagery. Distribution of domestic imagery to parties other than those identified in the approved PUM, DIR or MFR is prohibited, unless the recipient is reasonably perceived to have a specific, lawful governmental function requiring it IAW paragraph 11.4. Unless otherwise approved, domestic imagery must be withheld from all general access database systems (e.g., Intelink).


US Air Force Policy Permits Incidental Collection of Domestic Imagery by Drones

Source: Secrecy News

Policy available at Federation of American Scientists

23 APRIL 2012



9.6. Navigational/Target Training activities.

9.6.1. Air Force units with weapon system video and tactical ISR capabilities may collect imagery during formal and continuation training missions as long as the collected imagery is not for the purpose of obtaining information about specific US persons or private property. Collected imagery may incidentally include US persons or private property without consent. Imagery may not be collected for the purpose of gathering any specific information about a US person or private entity, without consent, nor may stored imagery be retrievable by reference to US person identifiers.

9.6.2. Air Force Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operations, exercise and training missions will not conduct nonconsensual surveillance on specifically identified US persons, unless expressly approved by the Secretary of Defense, consistent with US law and regulations. Civil law enforcement agencies, such as the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the US Coast Guard, will control any such data collected.

EnhancedView’s cloudy future

Source: The Space Review

by Jeff Foust

On Friday, commercial satellite remote sensing company GeoEye surprised many in the industry when it announced an unsolicited takeover offer of its chief rival, DigitalGlobe. GeoEye offered $17 per share, split evenly in cash and stock, to acquire DigitalGlobe, valuing the company at $792 million. The deal represented a 26 percent premium on DigitalGlobe’s stock price at the close of trading Thursday, although by Friday the stock soared to close at $16.44 a share.

“The considerable scale of the combined entity creates a strong domestic player in satellite imagery which could compete more effectively with foreign providers,” GeoEye president and CEO Matt O’Connell wrote in a letter to his counterpart at DigitialGlobe, Jeffrey Tarr. “The combination also allows for operating expense synergies and reduced capital requirements while better satisfying customer needs.” More…



Source:  Secrecy News

A handful of historical intelligence satellite images were declassified last month to coincide with a new display of the GAMBIT and HEXAGON spy satellites at the National Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The GAMBIT and HEXAGON satellites were formally declassified last September on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the National Reconnaissance Office. At that time, the NRO released voluminous documentation on the development of those satellites. But the associated imagery, which is held by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, was not released. Now a small number of satellite images have been made public.

However, the newly disclosed images are not originals, but are embedded in “posters” published by the NRO. As such, they do not lend themselves to detailed analysis, complained Charles P. Vick of Nor are the original negatives of the declassified photos available for public inspection.

There is an annotation on the released images indicating that they were declassified on January 13, 2012 by the Director of National Intelligence, which would be consistent with the provisions of the 1995 executive order 12951.

“The images have undoubtedly been degraded, because GAMBIT and HEXAGON’s best imagery capabilities remain classified,” wrote Dwayne Day in The Space Review. “These photographs are hopefully the first in many yet to come, and will help us better understand the battles in the shadows of the Cold War.”

Among other things, the NRO also released a new edition of the 1973 histories of GAMBIT and HEXAGON written by Robert L. Perry.

“Perry’s histories… serve as exemplars of the art and craft of historians. They are rich in detail, well-sourced, and written with engaging prose,” according to an informative introduction by James D. Outzen of the Center for the Study of National Reconnaissance.

Unfortunately, the new edition, while handsome, is not exemplary because it obscures the redaction of material that is still considered classified: “With respect to redacted material, we have edited the volumes to smooth the flow of language in the volume, rather than indicate where material was redacted.” This was a mistake.

Remarkably, the NRO initiative to declassify GAMBIT and HEXAGON program information, including imagery, dates back to 1997. At that time, a seven-month implementation schedule was optimistically anticipated.

“I would like to hiqhliqht this declassification effort with a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) ceremony (including the release of selected declassified imagery from both systems) in October 1997,” wrote NRO Deputy Director Keith R. Hall in a March 1997 memorandum that was obtained by Jeffrey Richelson of the National Security Archive.

As it turned out, the declassification process took 14 years, not seven months.

GeoEye Wins Russian Property Mapping Contract

Source: Space News

PARIS — Earth imagery provider GeoEye on Jan. 4 said it signed a new multimillion-dollar agreement with Russia’s ScanEx company to complete a national map of Russian land properties.

Under the contract, Herndon, Va.-based GeoEye will provide Moscow-based ScanEx with imagery from GeoEye’s archive of data taken by the GeoEye-1 high-resolution optical Earth observation satellite. In the second phase in what GeoEye said is a multiyear agreement, GeoEye starting in 2012 will provide ScanEx with new imagery of Russian territory to support the creation of a nationwide map of land properties. [more]

RapidEye contracted to cover China third year running

Source: RapidEye

Brandenburg / Havel, Germany, December 7, 2011 –  RapidEye, a leader in wide area, repetitive coverage of Earth through its constellation of satellites announced today that it has signed a contract with China’s Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) to cover almost five million square kilometers of China over the next few months. This is the third consecutive year that RapidEye was a successful bidder to cover China for the MLR. [Full story]