Algerian Space Agency Celebrates the 12th Anniversary of ALSAT-2A

Miloud HADEFI Sports Complex (Oran) as seen by ALSAT-2A on June 25, 2022. Source: ASAL

The Algerian high-resolution earth observation satellite ALSAT-2A, the first of a mini constellation of two satellites, on 12 July 2022 celebrates its 12th anniversary in space. Put into orbit by the Indian launcher PSLV-C 15 on July 12, 2010, for a nominal life of five years, the satellite continues its mission of providing high-resolution images (2.5 m) from its heliosynchronous orbit at an altitude of 670 km and evolves with a phase shift of 180° behind its twin satellite ALSAT-2B, which has accumulated almost six years of activity (launched on September 26, 2016).

In 2021, a satellite orbit semi-major axis correction manoeuvre campaign was carried out on ALSAT-2A where the satellite altitude was reduced by 12 km. This was done to slow down the inevitable drift of the local time of the satellite by a few minutes and thus maintain for several additional months acceptable lighting conditions for the acquisition of images over a wide range of latitudes, particularly at high latitudes during the winter season.

This will be followed by another correct campaign planned during the second half of 2022 and aimed at decreasing the semi-major axis of the ALSAT-2A satellite by an additional 10 km to limit the drift of the local time from 08:15, currently (July 2022) at around 08:00 in July 2023.

Since its launch, the ALSAT-2A satellite has provided more than  272,100 Panchromatic and Multispectral scenes over the entire earth, nearly half of which are intended to respond in priority to concerns related to sustainable national development and that of the African continent. This represents a covered area of ​​approximately 24.22 million km².

Indeed, the ALSAT-2A space system is still operational thanks to the robustness and performance of its subsystems on the one hand, and also thanks to the optimal management supported by the team of CDS engineers and of the Ouargla station, which has been able since 2010, to manage, monitor and maintain life in orbit of the satellite, on the other hand.

The performance of the payload of the ALSAT-2A satellite and its calibration, through permanent monitoring of image quality, have made it possible to invest in a wide field of space applications for the benefit of the various national sectors, thus generating a significant increase in requests in different fields.

Twelve years after its launch, ALSAT-2A data are still leveraged in national projects spread throughout Algeria for several thematic applications in different sectors. For instance, ALSAT-2A has helped manage and monitor agricultural, water and forestry resources and prevent, manage and monitor natural disasters (forest fires, locust control, desertification). Similarly, it has also been instrumental in several major infrastructure projects, land use planning and environmental protection, thematic cartography, etc.