Eros B spy satellite sends first images

Images of Syrian, Sudan received; not known if Iranian nuke plant was viewed.

Eros B view of syria 298 (photo credit: ImageSat International)
Eros B view of syria 298
(photo credit: ImageSat International)
The first high-quality images from the Israeli Eros B spy satellite designed to track Iran's nuclear program arrived at a ground station over the weekend, an official said Sunday. The satellite, launched last week from Russia, is capable of capturing images on the ground as small as 70 centimeters (27.6 inches). Eros B, which can remain in orbit for six years, reaches equatorial areas once every five days and crosses over the North Pole 16 times a day, said Shimon Eckhaus, chief executive officer of ImageSat, which oversees the satellite. However, the satellite can take pictures of images 500 kilometers (310 miles) to the right or left of it, so it can snap pictures of the same spot more often, Eckhaus said. Satellite pictures published on Sunday showed vivid images of a Syrian dam, helicopters in Sudan and a military port in an unidentified country. But the satellite's main purpose is to track Iran's nuclear program at a time when Teheran is refusing to comply with UN demands to halt uranium enrichment and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is calling for Israel's destruction. Doron Suslik, an official at Israel Aircraft Industries, a partner in the satellite project, declined to say whether images from Iran had also arrived. "All the satellite's systems are working as necessary and the pictures that were received Friday afternoon ... were of an excellent quality," Suslik told The Associated Press. Eckhaus said he didn't know if the pictures contained images from Iran.