Probable Chinese Collection. Satellite Imagery
Central Intelligence Agency Directorate of Intelligence3
PROBABLE CHINESE COLLECTION OF US SATELLITE IMAGERY
recent order for US Earth Resources(ERTS) imagerytrongthe PRC is attempting to exploit thepotential. eries of letters toFalls ERTS Data Center, aiof an unidentifiedincludes China and neighboring countries toiles from the Chinese border (see map).
The hypothesishinese client is supported by review of previous activities oforiginated the ERTS order. Earner securu^nvestigations, going back to thes, revealed thatcquired information on the US on behalf of several Communist These included US civil defense plans for an East European agenteries of US patents for the PRC.
collection activityattern thefollowed over the past several years. Duringthey have used numerous international
^Htoonsiderable variety of (products that would be useful to missf programs. Order lists have included topographic, gravity, aeromagnetic, and hydrographic maps and charts. Large-scale topographic maps are requested most frequently, with
up0 per sheet being offered for coverage of the USSR near the China border. Several PRC orders during
equested US publications on remotethe environment.
suspected PRC ERTS order is elaborated 1nof at least six letters to the Datand The first inquiries ret,information on tlie types of ERTS productson ordering procedures. ollow-up letter in October
that, as the quantity of data is very large,wished toample of eachecision on quantity and type of data to
be ordered. In reply the Data Center selected aERTS scene andample of each of theroducts availableingle image.
study of the sample products, thehis full order ina
complete set of all satellite coverage of the area outlined on the acconoanylng map. The order specifiesnch transparencies of each scene, representing each of the four bands imaged by the satellite's Multispectral Scannermages with more thanercent cloud cover are not wanted, and the best quality image is to.be provided where there is repetitive coverage.
The US reply listed available satellite coverage of the specified area at that time. It consists ofmages, each covering an area ofiles. Much of the western and southern portions of the area has repetitive and cloud-free coverage. In some of the eastern and northern portions coverageacking or is too heavily clouded.
Subsequent correspondence shows some confusion over selection of the images to be processedone of urgency on the part of theletter 'n3 containednaTcating that the client believes nearly ftOO of the listed images meet his selection criteria. This number of scenes, ignoring overlap, would cover approximately one half of the area
shown on the map. Onuly the Data Center acknowledged receipt of the check and again asked for clarification of the exact procedure for selection of images from the list.
the primary application of ERTS dataearth resource surveys, the ordered images couldby the PRC in it< missile targeting programs. be particularly valuable for identificationof specific targets in the USSR, where theprobably had limited success in acquiring Even where maps have been acquired, ERTSadd to their information content and would provide
a check on positional accuracies.
capability for geodetically positioningtargets from ERTS MSS images varies inthe availability of supplementary data. Availabilityground control and/or large scalepositioning of targets to an accuracy ofhe local coordinate system. At the opposite extreme,is based solely on an ERTS image withoutor orbital information from satellite tapes,be a? largeeters.hird,would probably applyRC attempt totargets such as those located to the north of China
upistance of atilometers from the border. This would involve using photograrrmetric bridging techniques to extend control from China into the USf? and Mongoliaeries of photographs from the same orbit.
identification usingimited by its ground resolutionmore. Urban areas, ports, airfields, andtargets can generally be identified. assistdentification of smallerercent improvement in image resolution couldeffected by obtaining the data on magnetic tapesenhancing selected priority images.Chinese have recentlyonsiderableinterest in image-enhancement techniques, the tapenot routinely available and were not included in the r,Original document.