The Brazilian government informs that Egypt will soon start receiving images from the Cbers satellite, which is jointly owned by Brazil and China. A memorandum for expanding the satellite's reception to three stations in Africa was signed last week, during president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's trip to China.
In addition to the one in Egypt, stations in the Canary Islands and in South Africa will also receive the signal. Images from the Cbers are distributed free of charge, but require a reception system in order to arrive in the countries.
According to the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), China and Brazil's decision of distributing the images to Africa is a recent one, and will enable African governments and organizations to monitor natural disasters, deforestation, threats to agricultural production, and hazards to public health. Brazil and China use the data for environmental monitoring, agricultural development, urban planning and water management.
The images and information are available to all users, however, according to the Inpe, South American countries benefit the most, as they get the data from the Inpe's receiving antennas in the city of Cuiabá, capital of the state of Mato Grosso. Since 2004, over half a million images have been broadcasted from Brazil to 20,000 users. In China, 20,000 images have already been distributed, according to the Inpe.
In Brazil, for example, the images are used by organizations such as the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (IBGE), for updating maps in soil systematization, and by the National Institute for Colonization and Land Reform (Incra), for processes linked to land reform.
The Brazilian state-controlled oil company Petrobras, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and the Brazilian Environment and Renewable Natural Resource Institute (Ibama) also use images from the Cbers.
The images used are broadcasted by the Cbers 2-B satellite, which was put into orbit in September 2007. Two other satellites, Cbers 1 and Cbers 2, were previously launched but are currently inoperative. With the launch of the Cbers, Brazil made its debut in technology for supplying remote sensing data. In the past, the country used to depend on images from foreign equipment.
The agreement between Brazil and China was signed in 1998. Ever since, the two countries have invested US$ 350 million. The initiative, according to the Inpe, has made Brazil into one of the world's leading distributors of orbital images.
The policy of free access to the images was also followed by other countries, such as the United States. Alongside the United States' Landsat, the French Spot and the Indian ResourceSat, the Cbers has become one of the world's main remote sensing programs.