Satellites communicate a few times daily with ground stations on Earth. In addition to sending down images, we gather a variety of health data and occasionally send them new instructions or software updates.
The main camera captures images of the Earth at 3 to 5 meter resolution. Each Dove continuously photographs the Earth’s surface as it moves in orbit, completing an orbit roughly every 90 minutes (about 16 complete orbits in each 24-hour period). The Doves carry a star camera, which allows us to position the image on Earth.
Solar panels capture the sun’s rays to power the satellite, generating electricity that is stored in batteries. The solar panels are spring-loaded, remaining folded into the satellite body before deployment.
In addition to housing our numerous subsystems, each Dove carries laser-etched side panels designed by our first artist-in-residence, Forest Stearns.