Remote Sensing

Remote Sensing

Aug 2011 | No Comment


Vietnam selects Belgian consortium for EO satellite

The Government of Vietnam selected Belgian consortium which is led by SPACEBEL, a software engineering company operating in the Space and Earth monitoring applications sectors, for its second microsatellite for earth observations, ‘VNREDSAT-1B’. Vietnam will develop this microsatellite through its VNREDSAT (Vietnam Natural Resources Environment and Disaster monitoring small Satellite) programme. SPACEBEL is in charge of the mission and system studies, design and development of the entire satellite software package as well as the development and deployment of the ground segment.

The feasibility studies for the final design of the optical payload – for high-resolution and multispectral or hyperspectral images – are in progress until October. After technical and legal negotiations between the Vietnam and SPACEBEL, the contract will be signed in Ho-Chi Minh-ville in March 2012.

VNREDSAT-1B, planned for launch in 2016, will be combined with the first remote sensing microsatellite, to provide Vietnam with a regular and quick monitoring of the environment in South-East Asia. It is pertinent to mention here that multispectral VNREDSAT-1A, using the French Myriade bus, is in construction at EADS Astrium, Toulouse for a planned launch in 2013-2014.

Israel to enhance processing of satellite imagery

In an effort to improve intelligence capabilities, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) aims to develop technology that will automatically process, analyze and catalogue footage taken from the country’s spy satellites. Israel operates two types of satellites in space: electro-optic satellites, which use a high-resolution camera to take pictures of targets of interest; and SAR satellites, which use radar systems to create high-resolution images in all weather conditions, even through clouds and fog.

Currently, Israel operates the Ofek 9, Ofek 7 and the Ofek 5 reconnaissance satellites, as well as the advanced TecSar satellite, which is one of a handful in the world that uses advanced radar technology instead of a camera enabling it to take pictures at night, and in bad weather. The IDF also receives services from two commercially- owned satellites, known as Eros A and Eros B. Due to the increase in reconnaissance satellites as well as their contribution to Israeli intelligence-gathering efforts and the increase in productivity – the IAF is hoping that with a new processing system it will be able to interpret footage faster and possibly even more accurately. The IAF has reached out to local industries such as Elbit Systems, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for assistance in developing the new programme.

ISRO to scale up outsourcing to industries

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will significantly scale up outsourcing to industries to fuel the quantum jump in the programmes being undertaken by it and has mooted a risk-sharing model, according to ISRO’s Chairman K Radhakrishnan. Speaking to Press Trust of India, Radhakrishnan said more than 500 industries (micro, small, medium and large) already account for 60 percent production of the space agency’s programme and their share would further go up. ISRO is witnessing a quantum jump in the production of rockets (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) and satellites, in the last two-three years.

Radhakrishnan added that ISRO has already launched three satellites this year, and four more spacecraft are getting ready for launch by March next year. “So you can see a quantum jump in both satellites and launch vehicles (rockets). And when you do these PSLV missions, you also send some of the foreign satellites,” he continued, adding the ISRO had already bagged order to launch 11 foreign satellites.
The ISRO has proposed to set up a huge manufacturing complex near the Sriharikota spaceport on the Andhra coast so that its industrial partners have production there. At present, ISRO’s suppliers are located in different parts of the country, and the idea now is to cut down the turnaround time and get the products on time.

ISRO has also mooted an idea for industrial partners that they can work in consortium mode if they wish — like coming together of players in the field of electronics, production, metals and precision fabrication, among others. Radhakrishnan said the manufacturing complex is expected to come up during the 12th plan, which starts in April next year.

South Korean satellite to aid disaster management

The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), under the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, formally became the newest member of the International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’. As the Charter’s newest member, KARI will contribute free images from its Kompsat-2 satellite. Launched in 2006, Kompsat-2 is equipped with a multispectral camera able to acquire 1 m-resolution panchromatic images and 4 m-resolution colour images. KARI has now established a collaboration with Korea’s National Institute for Disaster Protection (NIDP) under the National Emergency Management Agency to respond to disasters based on satellite information.

Founded by European Space Agency (ESA) and the French space agency, CNES, the Charter is an international collaboration between the owners and operators of Earth observation missions to provide rapid access to satellite data to help disaster management authorities in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.

China to get first space laboratory soon

Tiangong 1, China’s first space laboratory is all set to take off before the end of September 2011. Tiangong was originally expected to launch in 2010, and was also once slated for launch in the first half of this year. It will remain in orbit for at least two years. Tiangong is expected to host a crew on the first laboratory launched in this programme. CG animation and a model of Tiangong exhibited recently at a UN office in Vienna yielded little further clues to the spacecraft or its mission. There are a few more antennas clustered around the laboratory’s docking port than announced before. Some of these could be used for rendezvous and docking purposes. A central corridor for the crew is surrounded by equipment and storage racks.

Astrium’s sensors for GMES programme

European Space Agency (ESA) awarded a contract worth almost EUR 150 million to Astrium to build two satellite sensors that will monitor Earth’s atmosphere as part of Europium Union’s (EU) Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme (GMES). As prime industrial contractor, Astrium will coordinate the work of 45 companies in 11 European countries for the construction of the two instruments. The identical spectrometers, known as Sentinel-4, will each be carried on Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) weather satellites, to be launched in 2019 and 2027. From geostationary orbit 36 000 km above the equator, Sentinel-4 will provide data every hour on the chemical composition of the atmosphere including trace gases and ultraviolet radiation. By providing data on sulphur dioxide and aerosols over Europe, the mission will also help to improve the monitoring of plumes from volcanic eruptions. ESA’s first GMES satellite, Sentinel-1, is planned to be launched in 2013.

ISRO appoints full-time CMD for Antrix

The Indian Space research Organisation (ISRO) appointed Dr V S Hegde as the full time Chairman and Managing Director of its marketing wing, Antrix Corporation, in a bid to boost its commercialization drive. In addition, V Koteswara Rao has been appointed the scientific secretary of ISRO, while H N Madhusudana was appointed the associate scientific secretary. Hegde was ISRO’s scientific secretary since January 2010. He was involved in earth observation satellite (EOS) programmes in his earlier assignments. In addition, he is also the founder-director of Karnataka Space Remote Sensing Centre and vice-president of International Astronautical Federation.

GeoEye, ScanEx sign multi-million-dollar agreement

GeoEye signed a multi-year, multi-million-dollar agreement with its Russian partner, ScanEx Research and Development Center, to provide more than 50 million square kilometres of high-resolution commercial satellite imagery for international customers in Russia and its neighbouring countries.

GeoEye will deliver high-resolution IKONOS imagery from its colour imagery archive and new imagery to be collected through 2012. This new agreement expands the 2010 agreement where GeoEye provided ScanEx over two million square kilometres of imagery. The scope of this new agreement underscores the international commercial market’s increasing demand for high-resolution satellite imagery and services.

ESA, EDA sign accord for cooperation

European Space Agency (ESA) Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and European Defence Agency (EDA) Chief Executive Claude-France Arnould signed an administrative arrangement on cooperation.

The conclusion of the administrative arrangement follows the invitation sent by the Head of the EDA, Baroness Ashton, to ESA’s Director General to enter negotiations for the establishment of such an arrangement and its approval by the EU Council and the ESA Council in May and June 2011, respectively.

“I am convinced that an increased dialogue and coordination between the space and defence communities is of mutual interest and will allow European space programmes to better support Europe’s security and defence needs,” said Dordain. “Reinforcing the cooperation between EDA and ESA will allow us to further develop the security dimension of the European Space Policy in coordination with other EU stakeholders.” The aim of the Arrangement is to provide a structured relationship and a mutually beneficial cooperation between ESA and EDA through the coordination of their respective activities.

Building on their specific complementary roles and activities, ESA and EDA are already cooperating on a variety of subjects, including Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Satellite Communi-cation in support of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), and Space Situational Awareness, as well as critical space technologies.

Iran to build two new satellites: Pars2 and Qaem

“Remote-sensing Pars 2 satellite and …telecommunications Qaem satellite will be launched into space (in the future),” Hamid Fazeli told the Mehr News Agency. Pars 2 satellite will be designed for a period of three years in use and can take pictures with 5-meter resolution, he noted. Pars 2 and Qaem satellites will orbit at an altitude of 600 and 3,600 kilometers above the Earth’s surface respectively, he explained.

He said that Amir Kabir, Navid or Zafar are also remote-sensing satellites but the images taken by them are low resolution and are not efficient. There are four types of resolution when discussing satellite imagery in remote sensing: spatial, spectral, temporal, and radiometric.

Spatial resolution is defined as the pixel size of an image representing the size of the surface area being measured on the ground and it is determined by the sensors’ instantaneous field of view (IFOV). Spectral resolution is defined by the wavelength interval size and the number of intervals the sensor is measuring. Temporal resolution is defined by the amount of time that passes between imagery collection periods and radiometric resolution is defined as the ability of an imaging system to record many levels of brightness.

The government of India released its new Remote Sensing Data Policy

The new policy removes restrictions on all remote sensing data up to 1 m resolution, that is, all satellite remote sensing data of resolutions up to 1 m will now be distributed on a non-discriminatory basis and ‘on request’. The 2001 policy required data up to 5.8 meter resolution to be protected.

Meanwhile, for data better than 1 m resolution, private agencies need clearance from an interagency High Resolution Image Clearance Committee (HRC). However, government bodies can obtain such data without any further clearance. RSDP-2011 comes into effect immediately.

Remote Sensing Data Policy (RSDP – 2011)

Recognising that Remote Sensing data provides much essential and critical information – which is an input for developmental activities at different levels, and is also of benefit to society;

Noting that a large number of users – both within and outside government, use Remote Sensing data from Indian and foreign remote sensing satellites for various developmental applications;

Taking into consideration the recent availability of very high-resolution images, from foreign and commercial remote sensing satellites, and noting the need for proper and better management of the data acquisition/ distribution from these satellites in India;

Recognising that national interest is paramount, and that security consideration of the country needs to be given utmost importance;
The Government of India adopts the Remote Sensing Data Policy (RSDP) – 2011 containing modalities for managing and/ or permitting the acquisition/ dissemination of remote sensing data in support of developmental activities. Department of Space (DOS) of the Government of India shall be the nodal agency for all actions under this policy, unless otherwise stated.

1. For operating a remote sensing satellite from India, license and/ or permission of the Government, through the nodal agency, shall be necessary.

a. As a national commitment and as a “public good”, Government assures a continuous and improved observing/ imaging capability from its own Indian Remote Sensing Satellites (IRS) programme.

b. The Government, through the nodal agency, shall be the sole and exclusive owner of all data collected/ received from IRS. All users will be provided with only a license to use the said data, and add value to the satellite data.

c. Government reserves the right to impose control over imaging tasks and distribution of data from IRS or any other Indian remote sensing satellite, when it is of the opinion that national security and/ or international obligations and/ or foreign policies of the Government so require.

2. For acquisition/ distribution of remote sensing data within India, license/ permission from the Government of India, through the nodal agency, shall be necessary.

a. Government reserves the right to select and permit agencies to acquire/ distribute satellite remote sensing data in India. DOS shall be competent to decide on the procedure for granting license/ permission for dissemination of such data, and for the levy of necessary fees.

b. To cater to the developmental needs of the country, the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)/ DOS is vested with the authority to acquire and disseminate all satellite remote sensing data in India, both from Indian and foreign satellites.

i. NRSC shall enter into appropriate arrangements with DOS for acquiring/ distributing data from IRS within the visibility circle of NRSC’s receiving station(s).

ii. NRSC and/ or Antrix Corporation Ltd., shall be competent to enter into agreements with foreign satellite operator(s) for acquisition/distribution of foreign satellite data in India. However, NRSC will distribute the data as per terms agreed to with Antrix Corporation Ltd.

c. NRSC shall maintain a systematic National Remote Sensing Data Archive, and a log of all acquisitions/ sales of data for all satellites.

3. For acquisition and distribution of IRS data for use in countries other than India, the Government of India, through the nodal agency, shall grant license to such bodies/ agencies of those countries as are interested in the acquisition/ distribution of IRS data, as per specific procedures.

a. The Antrix Corporation Ltd. (of DOS) is vested with the authority for receiving the applications for grant of license for acquisition/ distribution of IRS data outside of India; to consider and decide on the granting of license within the policy considerations of the Government, and to enter into licensing agreements with the prospective users on behalf of the Government. Antrix Corporation Ltd. shall also be competent to levy such fees for granting licenses as may be considered appropriate by it. It shall also be responsible, where necessary, for rendering any further help/ guidance needed by the license.

b. The Government reserves right to impose restrictions over imaging tasks and distribution of IRS data in any country when it is of the opinion that national security and/ or international obligations and/ or foreign policies of the Government so require.

4. The Government prescribes the following guidelines to be adopted for dissemination of satellite remote sensing data in India:

a. All data of resolutions up to 1 m shall be distributed on a nondiscriminatory basis and on “as requested basis”.

b. With a view to protect national security interests, all data of better than 1 m resolution shall be screened and cleared by the appropriate agency prior to distribution; and the following procedure shall be followed:

1. Government users namely, Ministries/ Departments/ Public Sector/ Autonomous Bodies/ Government R&D institutions/ Government Educational/ Academic Institutions, can obtain the data without any further clearance.

2. Private sector agencies, recommended at least by one Government agency, for supporting development activities, can obtain the data without any further clearance.

3. Other private, foreign and other users, including web based service providers, can obtain the data after further clearance from an interagency High Resolution Image Clearance Committee (HRC), already in place.

4. Specific requests for data of sensitive areas, by any user, can be serviced only after obtaining clearance from the HRC.

5. Specific sale/ non-disclosure agreements to be concluded between NRSC and other users for data of better than 1 m resolution.

5. This Policy (RSDP-2011) comes into effect immediately, and may be reviewed from time-to-time-by Government

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