Apr 27, 2013

Australian Investment in Earth Observation Satellites

Estimated Article Reading Time: 2 min.

Flood monitoring, ship detection over wide areas of ocean, and natural resource management can all be better managed for Australia through SAR satellites. SAR, or Synthetic Aperture Radar, satellites observe the earth using radar, and can be more useful in these applications than traditional satellite imagery, such as that seen on Google Earth.

Two reports on Australia’s use and investment in SAR satellites have been released.

Robust Imaging From Space is a detailed examination of options for Australian investment in SAR satellites. The report finds that Australia could significantly benefit economically from SAR, and recommends developing a more detailed plan for continued Australian access to SAR satellites.

Robust Imaging from Space was commissioned by the Department of Innovation, Industry, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Information. It was prepared by CTG Consulting in conjunction with the CRC for Spatial Information (CRCSI) Radar Research Facility team of Prof Tony Milne, Dr Mark Williams, and Dr Anthea Mitchell.

Australia and SAR: A Road Map examines the use of SAR satellites to applications such as monitoring flooding under heavy cloud, measuring water content of agricultural crops to improve yields, and detecting and monitoring ocean oil spills. The report recommends that Australia invest in skills to interpret SAR imagery, and suggests participation in multi-national SAR satellite missions into the future.

This report was prepared by Emeritus Professor John Richards for the CRC for Spatial Information.

“The two reports are examples of how the CRCSI contributes to the policy debate and formulation of strategy, through the provision of impartial and factual information on emerging issues of space and spatial science” said Peter Woodgate, CRCSI Chief Executive Officer.

These two reports help support Australia’s new Satellite Utilisation Policy. The Policy was released on 9 April by the Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Senator Kate Lundy.

In launching the new Policy Minister Lundy noted that “Whether it’s for navigation, getting accurate weather forecasts, or communication in remote areas, Australians have a growing appetite for satellite services.

“This space policy will ensure that Australians can continue to access the satellite capacity we need through partnerships with other countries and commercial suppliers.”

CRCSI Backgrounder

The CRCSI is an unincorporated joint venture set up under the Cooperative Research Centre Program of the Australian Commonwealth Government. The purpose of the CRCSI is to build critical mass in research ventures between end-users and researchers tackling clearly articulated, major challenges for the end-users using the fundamental spatial technologies of global navigation satellite systems, spatial data infrastructures, data fusion and spatial feature extraction. The CRCSI brings powerful collaboration on all critical research and education issues that involve a spatial aspect. In doing so the CRCSI seeks to accelerate the take up of spatial science in key end-users, spawning major innovation and productivity advances in the key industry sectors of Health; Defence; Energy & Utilities; Sustainable Urban Planning; and Agriculture, Natural Resources and Climate Change.

CTG Consulting Backgrounder

CTG is a firm of consultants and managers who provide a range of strategic and project-level professional services. CTG specialises in business process improvement through the application of geospatial information management and associated high performance processing and storage technologies for enterprise spatial enablement. CTG is a participant in CRCSI as a 43pl member.