space AID

Farm­ers are set to ben­e­fit as the CSIRO in­vests in one of the world’s most so­phis­ti­cated satel­lites

Farms & Farm Machinery - - News -

TCSIRO has the right to di­rect the satel­lite’s ac­tiv­ity over Aus­tralia, down­load and process data, and make th­ese data avail­able to the wider re­search com­mu­nity

he CSIRO has se­cured ac­cess to one of the world’s most so­phis­ti­cated high-per­for­mance satel­lites, al­low­ing

Aus­tralian sci­en­tists and farm­ers to bet­ter mon­i­tor crops, check plant biomass and soil mois­ture and as­sess flood risks, among other ben­e­fits.

Lo­cal sci­en­tists will have di­rect con­trol over which data the satel­lite col­lects over our re­gion.

Due for launch later this year, the No­vaSAR satel­lite will pro­vide 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 high­res­o­lu­tion im­ages of Earth from space.

De­vel­oped by UK-based Sur­rey Satel­lite Tech­nol­ogy Ltd (SSTL), and with a pay­load sup­plied by Air­bus UK, the CSIRO says this S-band SAR tech­nol­ogy is a sig­nif­i­cant ad­vance­ment on cur­rent civil­ian satel­lite ca­pa­bil­ity.

It en­ables im­ages to be taken day and night, and through cloud cover, which is es­pe­cially use­ful in trop­i­cal zones and cloudaf­fected ar­eas.

“CSIRO and SSTL have agreed to a 10 per cent share of ‘task­ing and ac­qui­si­tion’ time on the No­vaSAR satel­lite,” the CSIRO says.

“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 th­ese data avail­able to the wider re­search com­mu­nity.”

Be­sides the ben­e­fits men­tioned above, other prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tions for No­vaSAR satel­lite data and as­so­ci­ated re­search projects in­clude:

• Rapid nat­u­ral dis­as­ter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, mon­i­tor­ing and as­sess­ment in­clud­ing af­ter cy­clones, floods, earth­quakes, pol­lu­tion and oil spills

• Im­proved in­fra­struc­ture and agri­cul­ture map­ping in North­ern


• De­tec­tion of il­le­gal de­for­esta­tion

• Mon­i­tor­ing ship­ping routes and de­tect­ing il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity.

Fed­eral Min­is­ter for In­dus­try, In­no­va­tion and Sci­ence Arthur Sin­odi­nos says the agree­ment is 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,” he says.

“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.

“This will also lead to bet­ter and more in­formed sup­port for pol­icy and de­ci­sion-mak­ing and, ul­ti­mately, our eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment as a na­tion,” Sin­odi­nos says.

CSIRO ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of dig­i­tal, na­tional fa­cil­i­ties and col­lec­tions Dr Dave Wil­liams says the deal rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in Aus­tralia’s space ca­pa­bil­ity.

“The aim is to man­age the The No­vaSAR satel­lite as a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion of the sig­nif­i­cant role CSIRO al­ready plays in man­ag­ing a range of na­tional fa­cil­i­ties on be­half of the Aus­tralian com­mu­nity of sci­en­tists and for the ben­e­fit of the na­tion,” Wil­liams says.

“Be­cause we’ll be able to di­rect the satel­lite’s ac­tiv­ity, it pro­vides sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­ni­ties to sup­port a wide range of ex­ist­ing re­search, fur­ther de­velop Aus­tralia’s earth ob­ser­va­tion data an­a­lyt­ics ex­per­tise, and cre­ate new op­por­tu­ni­ties in the field of re­mote sens­ing.”

There should also be the knock-on ef­fect of build­ing stronger re­search part­ner­ships be­tween the gov­ern­ment, uni­ver­si­ties and the wider space in­dus­try in Aus­tralia.

Sur­rey Satel­lite Tech­nol­ogy com­mer­cial di­rec­tor Luis Gomes says the No­vaSAR-s sys­tem pro­vides revo­lu­tion­ary tech­nol­ogy to de­liver im­agery at any point on the globe.

“Our part­ner­ship on the No­vaSAR mis­sion with CSIRO will greatly en­hance Aus­tralia’s sovereign Earth ob­ser­va­tion ca­pa­bil­ity,” he says.

“The No­vaSAR-S tech­nol­ogy en­ables data col­lec­tion 24/7, re­gard­less of day­light or weather con­di­tions, which is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant for this con­ti­nent with an area with a trop­i­cal cli­mate and a large coast­line ter­ri­tory.

“We look for­ward to work­ing with CSIRO as one of our key part­ners over the next seven years to pro­vide cut­ting-edge geospa­tial data for Aus­tralia’s ben­e­fit.”

The No­vaSAR satel­lite will be man­aged in the space pro­gram of CSIRO’s As­tron­omy and Space Sci­ence group, which al­ready man­ages the Aus­tralian Tele­scope Na­tional Fa­cil­ity (ATNF) com­pris­ing Parkes, the Com­pact Ar­ray and ASKAP.

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