3.2.3. RapidEye/Blackbridge

RapidEye was launched in 2008 and uses a constellation of five identical satellites for imaging. The five satellites are identical in terms of their calibration, such that images from different satellites are indistinguishable from each other. This configuration permits high spatial resolution images to be acquired while at the same time relatively larger portions of the earth’s surface (swath) are covered compared to that of DigitalGlobe satellites. RapidEye operates at an altitude of 630 km and produces images at a ground sampling distance of 6.5 m (Sandau 2010), which can be radiometrically corrected to 5 m (i.e., in the Level 3A product). Data is provided in five optical bands (blue, green, red, red-edge and NIR) in the 400–850 nm range of the electromagnetic spectrum. The satellite has a swath width of 77 km and a revisit time of 5.5 days (at nadir) and daily (off-nadir). Its swath width ensures the imaging of about 5 million km2 every day and over 1 billion km2 every year. Having a spatial resolution that is just about right to capture most small-scale farms and to provide data for a relatively large area makes this satellite a good candidate for agricultural land use mapping in SHA systems. In other words, its use permits a balance between accuracy and cost, especially when large areas need to be mapped. Recent studies have shown the potential of RapidEye in mapping SHA systems in Africa (Forkuor et al., 2014) and Asia (ref).

RapidEye/Blackbridge was acquired by Planet Labs in 2015.