Systems, techniques and services for operational applications of radar Earth observation

The increasing availability of data from synthetic aperture radar (SAR) missions with better resolution and coverage offered by the new acquisition modes Spotlight and TOPS, is a unique opportunity to research and develop new data processing and exploitation techniques adapted to the new acquisition geometries and end users’ needs. Among the areas of highest interest are crop monitoring in precision farming applications, the control of terrain deformation of natural origin: landslides, earthquakes, volcanoes, level change in aquifers, etc. and the detection of surface motion and structural changes in buildings, dams, mines, transport infraestructures, etc.

In order to enable new applications unfeasible with current Low Earth orbit satellite systems (LEOSAR), the project proposes also the study and development of new compact radar systems operating at Ku (18 GHz) and W bands (94 GHz), which can be industrialized and optimized for integration in terrestrial and multi-rotor UAV platforms. The complementarity and fusion of optical and radar images will be also studied. To overcome the long revisit time limitation of LEOSAR, the project includes the experimental validation of a new mission concept based on geostationary satellites (GEOSAR). GEOSAR has been recently studied by the research team, showing the capability to provide nearly continuous SAR imaging (every 15 minutes) of the European continent for better meteorological prediction and the prevention and control of natural hazards.

The project allows to complete and improve previously developed techniques, their extension to the new SAR acquisition modes and their integration in automated processing chains in order to facilitate its use by end users and added-value companies. This will allow taking advantage of the new cost-free open data policy of Copernicus ESA Program (Sentinel-1/2) and promoting a widespread use of the PAZ SAR satellite data which has been successfully tested and ready for launch.

Top image: Artistic view of the GEOSAR mission

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