CSIRO takes 10% stake in NovaSAR satellite project

By Addie Thomes

Australia’s national space agency CSIRO has bought into a UK satellite project set to launch next year.

Under the terms of the agreement, worth $10.45mn over seven years for a 10% stake, CSIRO has the right to direct the NovaSAR satellite’s activity over Australia, download and process data, and make these data available to the wider research community.

Australia’s Federal Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Arthur Sinodinos said: “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.”

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Some of the 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 Australia
  • Monitoring crops and assessing factors such as plant biomass and soil moisture
  • Detection of illegal deforestation
  • Flood risk assessment
  • Monitoring shipping routes and detecting illegal activity
     

Sinodinos added: “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.”

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

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