MTI satellite lifespan and applications exceed expectations

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By Special to the Monitor

For engineers and scientists at Sandia, the evening of Friday, March 12, marked a proud moment.

Hundreds of miles above the Earth, the Multispectral Thermal Imager satellite reached its 10th anniversary of service as it completed its 55,000th orbit — far exceeding both its intended maximum life and its potential applications.

The National Nuclear Security Administration sponsored the MTI satellite project as a tri-lab effort to develop and evaluate advanced space-based technology for nonproliferation treaty monitoring and other national security and civilian applications.

The project was carried out by DOE’s Savannah River National Laboratory and NNSA’s Los Alamos and Sandia laboratories.

Sandia served as the lead lab, responsible for the system engineering, integration, testing, launch support and on-orbit operations.

Originally only intended for a one- to three-year mission, the MTI satellite was designed to provide highly accurate radiometry with good spatial resolution in 15 spectral bands and measure ground temperatures from space with accuracies in the realm of one kelvin.

Read the full story in Tuesday's Los Alamos Monitor.