The level of detail in the image is incredible and points to one of the NRO's classified KH-11 EVOLVED ENHANCED CRYSTAL electro-optical reconnaissance satellites (they are also known as ADVANCED CRYSTAL, KENNEN, and colloquially as 'KeyHole').

    These are high resolution optical satellites that resemble the Hubble Space Telescope, but look down to Earth instead to the heavens. It is known that the optics of these satellites are 2.4-meter diameter mirrors. Theoretically, from the perigee of their orbits this would yield a resolution of just under 10 cm.

    Christiaan Triebert analysed the shadow directions on the image and placed the time of the image between 9 and 10 UT (August 29), or 13:30-14:30 local Iranian time. Michael Thompson pointed out on Twitter that one of the KH-11 satellites, USA 224 (2011-002A), made a pass over the launch site in that time window.

    This satellite is a classified satellite, but we do know its orbit because amateur trackers track this object regularly.

    This blogpost consolidates two analysis which I initially published through Twitter. I will show in this analysis that there is very little doubt that USA 224 took this image.


Hey I know that satellite!

    In 1984, a Navy intelligence analyst was sent to prison for leaking three KH-11 images to the press.

That was this shot of the Kirov. Compare 1984 CCD technology with modern Digitalglobe:

posted by johan: 48 days ago