Australia’s leading scientific research organisation has secured access to a high-performance satellite, giving Australian scientists direct control over which data the satellite collects over the region.
The CSIRO will be provided with data from the NovaSAR satellite, which is due for launch late this year, providing the CSIRO and the wider Australian research community with access to an advanced form of radar technology known as S-band Synthetic Aperture Radar, or S-band SAR, which provides high resolution images of Earth from space.
Developed by UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), and with a payload supplied by Airbus UK, this S-band SAR technology is slated as having a significant advancement on current civilian satellite capability.
The CSIRO said the advanced technology enables images to be taken day and night as well as through cloud cover.
CSIRO and SSTL have agreed to a 10 per cent share of "tasking and acquisition" time on the NovaSAR satellite. Under the terms of the agreement, worth $10.45 million over seven years, CSIRO has the right to direct the satellite’s activity over Australia, download and process data, and make this data available to the wider research community.
Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Arthur Sinodinos said the agreement was a timely investment in Australia’s space capability.
"Australia is one of the largest users of Earth observation from space data world-wide, with satellite data underpinning more than 100 state and federal resource mapping and environmental monitoring programs across Australia," Minister Sinodinos said.
"This agreement will allow CSIRO, via its national facility management capability, to strengthen Australia’s delivery of excellence in science and innovation. It will help CSIRO lead our nation’s development in the technical and analytical capability of modelling, monitoring and analysing our natural resource management and approaches to infrastructure."
Some of the practical applications for NovaSAR satellite data and associated research projects include:
- Rapid natural disaster identification, monitoring and assessment including bushfires, cyclones, floods, earthquakes, pollution and oil spills;
- Improved infrastructure and agriculture mapping in northern Australia;
- Monitoring crops and assessing factors such as plant biomass and soil moisture;
- Detection of illegal deforestation;
- Flood risk assessment; and
- Monitoring shipping routes and detecting illegal activity.