IMINT (imagery intelligence) satellite

An IMINT (imagery intelligence) satellite is a satellite that uses film and electronic cameras, or radar, to produce high-resolution images of objects on the ground at ranges of up to 1,000 kilometers. Orbiting at altitudes of several hundred km, today's IMINT satellites can identify and distinguish different types of vehicles and equipment with a resolution of up to 10 centimeters. They are used both for peacetime collection of intelligence, including verification of arms control agreements, and the location of military targets to in wartime. The 1991 Gulf War was the first time that data returned from IMINT satellites directly supported combat operations. The first generation of IMINT satellites, known as Corona, returned high-resolution photographs to Earth via small reentry capsules. Film return satellites were superceded in the 1980s by electronic imaging satellites which return pictures to Earth via telemetry.