CBERS: a Chinese-Brazilian Collaboration

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Photo showing a bunch of hands holding up the earth. Photo: Gandee Vasan/Getty Images

Developing Nations Join Forces to Make Earth Observation a Reality

China Brazil Earth Resources Satellite (CBERS) is a joint program initiated by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research and China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) in 1988.

The aim of the program is to develop a family of 1.5 ton class multipurpose remote sensing satellites and related ground facilities to supply both countries with multispectral earth remote sensing images.

This unique collaboration has been going strong for more than 20 years, proving that developing nations, working together, can achieve impressive results.

Altogether, the program has launched three satellites with two more nearly ready for orbit.

During the initial phase of the CBERS project (1988-2003), two satellites, CBERS-1 and CBERS-2, were sent into space.

The first satellite to be developed, CBERS-1, was launched with success by the Chinese Long March 4B launcher, from the Taiyuan Launch Base, on Oct. 14, 1999.

In 2002, the two countries signed a new protocol of cooperation, starting the second phase of the partnership. The second satellite developed jointly with China was launched on Oct.21, 2003.

In September 2007, CBERS-2B was launched to maintain the supply of images in the period of time between the end of CBERS-2 operation and the launching of CBERS-3.

CBERS-2B has three imaging cameras on board: CCD, WFI and the high resolution panchromatic HRC. The satellite also carries an on-board recording system, and an advanced positioning system, which includes GPS (Global Positioning System) and star sensor.

While the first three satellites had 70 percent of their construction under China’s responsibility, CBERS-3 and CBERS-4 will be equally shared between Brazil and China.

Images from CCD/CBERS-2B include views of Amazonian deforestation and regrowth

Images from CCD/CBERS-2B include views of Amazonian deforestation and regrowth

The diversity of cameras provided by CBERS-2B allows for imaging appropriate for diverse needs including urban planning, which requires high spatial resolution as well as applications that need frequent, but not specific data, such as agriculture and deforestation.

In Brazil, images from CCD/CBERS-2B provide support for large national and strategic projects, like PRODES (Monitoring of the Amazon Forest Brazilian Satellite) and CANASAT (Amazon deforestation real time evaluation and monitoring of sugar-cane areas).

In China, CBERS images helped to plan for the Beijing Olympics, and provided critical imagery after major earthquakes and snowfalls.

A detailed presentation about the CBERS program, including details of payload and a wealth of images, is available atåÊcropwatch.com.