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Earth Observation Satellites and the Geosys Virtual Constellation

With more than 400 Earth Observation (EO) satellites in orbit, it’s easy to get lost in space when trying to sort through the available data sources. But only a handful of the EO satellites in orbit meet the unique needs of agriculture.

Over the past 30 years, Geosys has managed a virtual constellation of satellites for its customers. By prioritizing high-quality, scientific grade data, we’re able to meet the business demands of our customers globally. And our proprietary, source-agnostic processing system makes using the data from these various sources seamless to integrate into any system.

Click the full-screen icon on the SWAY report below for a closer look at the Geosys Virtual Constellation.

A Brief Look at EO Satellites

An EO satellite is equipped with passive or active sensors designed to image the earth. Most are low in Earth’s orbit (400-800 km altitude) and traveling at around 17,000 mph. You can find a mixture of public and commercial EO satellites, all with varying wavelengths, resolutions and orbits – depending on the specific application. They generally have a planned lifetime of less than 10 years – but, as you’ll see, some can run longer.

What makes an EO Satellite good for agriculture?

Some of our key requirements includes:

  • Multispectral optical sensor
  • Wide swath (and/or multiple satellites working together)
  • Frequent revisit
  • Excellent data quality
  • High capacity ground segment
  • Reliable management (tasking and delivery)
  • Rapid pre-processing and delivery
  • Low cost per square kilometer

The Geosys Virtual Constellation

Many competitors base their service on a single data source – or only the free, public sources. A major strength of Geosys is our 30-year experience in bringing together multiple data sources into a seamless service.

This multi-supplier model is not simple (technically or commercially) but Geosys does it to maximize timeliness of data while keeping costs sustainable for our customers.


  • Launched in 2016
  • 24 meter GSD
  • Swath 150km
  • Acquisition strategy: Tasked
  • Revisit: Up to 3 days with off-nadir pointing
  • Built by SSTL, UK. Operated by ASAL, Algeria.


  • Launched in 2014
  • 20 meter GSD
  • Swath 120km
  • 4 vis/NIR bands
  • Acquisition strategy: Systematic over China and Brasil
  • Revisit: 26 days
  • Owned and operated by the China–Brazil Earth Resources Satellite programme
  • Only available in Brazil through the Geosys virtual constellation.


  • Launched in 2009
  • 22m GSD
  • 3 VIS/NIR bands
  • Swath 650km
  • Acquisition strategy: Tasked
  • Revisit: approximately 2 days (combined)
  • Deimos-1 owned an operated by Deimos Imaging, an Urthecast company.


  • Launched in 2013
  • 8 meter GSD
  • Swath 800km
  • Acquisition strategy: Selective
  • Revisit: 4 days
  • Owned and operated by CNSA, China.

Gaofen-6 WFV

  • Launched in June 2018
  • 16 meter GSD
  • 8 Vis/NIR bands
  • Swath 800km
  • Acquisition strategy: Selective
  • Revisit: 4 days
  • Owned and operated by CNSA, China.


  • Launched in 2018
  • 19 meter GSD
  • Swath 275km
  • Acquisition strategy: Tasked
  • Revisit: Up to 3 days with off-nadir pointing
  • Built by SSTL, UK. Operated by Ghalam, Kazakhstan.

Landsat 8

  • Launched in 2013
  • 30 meter GSD delivered at 15 meter
  • Swath 185km
  • 11 vis/NIR/TIR bands
  • Acquisition strategy: systematic
  • Revisit: 16 days
  • Operated by USGS
  • “Gold standard” since 1970s
  • Landsat 9 planned for 2020.


  • Launched in 2011
  • 24 meter GSD
  • Swath 140km
  • Acquisition strategy: Systematic
  • Revisit: 24 days
  • Owned and operated by ISRO, India
  • Government deal between US and India signed in 2017 for open data access through USGS.

Sentinel 2

  • Two identical satellites; S2A launched in 2015 and S2B launched in 2017
  • 10 meter GSD
  • Swath 290km
  • 12 VIS/NIR/SWIR bands
  • Acquisition strategy: systematic
  • Revisit: 5 days
  • Operated by ESA on behalf of EC
  • Continuity missions planned for future under EC ‘Copernicus’ program.

Looking to the future

Geosys is the only agriculture anchor customer for the EarthDaily constellation. The satellites will provide systematic, daily acquisition of all global land masses at 5 meter resolution.

This revolutionary constellation will transform the way we deliver data to our customers.

Want to learn more?

To understand more about the spectral bands and resolutions, be sure to review 4 Things You Should Know About Satellite Technology or download the complete whitepaper: Understanding and Evaluating Satellite Remote Sensing Technology in Agriculture

© 2020 Geosys Holdings ULC​ | All Rights Reserved.

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