The Amazonia-1 mission provides remote sensing data (images) to observe and monitor deforestation, especially in the Amazon region, as well as the diversified agriculture throughout the country.
However, because Brazil is such a large country, it is almost mandatory to use satellites for these types of environmental, agricultural, and water monitoring programs not only because of the large area to be monitored, but also the inaccessibility of some areas from anywhere but space and the high cost of “revisit” monitoring from the ground. Further, the data generated by Amazonia-1 will be freely distributed, allowing many different public, private, and governmental organizations to advance various programs and applications.
INPE, the National Institute for Space Research (in Portuguese: Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais), Brazil’s leading entity dedicated to space research and exploration produced the nearly 700-kilogram Amazonia-1 satellite. For Brazil’s leading entity dedicated to space research and exploration, Amazonia-1 represents the first Earth observation satellite to be completely designed, integrated, tested and operated in Brazil.
Country pride runs strong. Adenilson Silva, Amazonia-1 mission responsible adds, “We did not want just to design, integrate, test and launch a satellite — we wanted to develop as much as possible in Brazil with other Brazilian space organizations. We accomplished this goal, successfully developing some equipment and subsystems for the first time in our country.”
Additionally, Amazonia-1 was based on a Multi Mission Platform (MMP), a multi-purpose satellite bus that can be used for different missions with almost no differences in the service module. With this, Amazonia-1 was the first of its kind, advancing the Brazilian space industry and also validating the MMP in orbit. It was the first time that Brazil had completed the entire development cycle for a satellite of that complexity.
To accommodate the nearly 700-kilogram satellite, Spaceflight Inc. purchased an entire NewSpace India Limited’s (NSIL) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). Amazonia-1 lifted off February 28, 2021 from Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota (SDSC, SHAR), India and was successfully deployed to a mean altitude 752 kilometers Sun Synchronous orbit.
Choosing a dedicated launch was an easy call. “A lot of aspects of the Amazonia-1 mission were new for us,” added Silva. “Therefore, the risk to be a secondary payload was considered high. We had to have the schedule control if something goes wrong or if there were any types of delays due to Covid 19. Spaceflight’s end-to-end launch services and technical experience with the PSLV rocket gave us confidence that our mission needs would be managed which enabled our team to fully focus on preparing the satellite to launch.”
“Spaceflight’s team is very professional and straightforward,” continued Silva. “Since there are many aspects to be worked simultaneously during a complex mission like ours, Spaceflight helped us to have schedule and planning under control. Our teams enjoyed a very good relationship, and we very much appreciated their support throughout the entire mission.”
While early, the initial results are very positive. Amazonia-1 is already generating very good data that can improve the environment, help in rainforest preservation and agricultural planning, and ultimately make people’s lives better.
The first images from the Amazonia-1 satellite were taken on March 3, 2021, only two days after testing all the satellite subsystems was complete. The Amazonia-1 camera was turned on over Brazil where it took these initial images to check the health of the spacecraft.
After the maneuvering phase to place the satellite in its nominal orbit, the commissioning phase of the WFI camera of Amazonia-1 begins, with an estimated duration of approximately two months. During this phase, the radiometric and geometric quality of the images is evaluated. After the end of the commissioning phase, the Amazonia-1 satellite will be officially declared “operational“ and the images made available to the users by means of INPE’s image catalog.
Congratulations to INPE for a job well done. We sincerely applaud your efforts in using space to make the environment here on Earth better for everyone.