A small, one-ton Chinese satellite can quickly snap high-resolution images of US cities that are so detailed they can identify individual military vehicles and the weapons they carry, Chinese scientists involved in the Beijing-3 satellite project said on Tuesday.
The commercial Beijing-3 satellite, launched by China in June, conducted an in-depth scan of a 1,470 square-mile area in the San Francisco Bay. The satellite captured the area within 42 seconds, The South China Morning Post first reported, citing results published this month in the Chinese peer-reviewed journal Spacecraft Engineering.
Beijing-3 has a unique advantage up its sleeve: It can pitch and yaw at up to 10 degrees per second while not compromising image quality as it orbits the Earth, said lead scientist Yang Fang, who headed the project run by DFH Satellite Company under the Chinese Academy of Space and Technology.
Normally, satellite cameras have to be kept still when they take high-definition images, and thus can only observe straight strips of land as they orbit above the area. So they sometimes have to fly over a region multiple times to scan the whole area or work in tandem with other satellites.
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