From CSIRO -Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (AU) : “CSIRO opens satellite offering for Aussie Earth observation”

CSIRO bloc

From CSIRO -Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (AU)

8 July 2021
Ms Mikayla Keen
Communication advisor, Space
Tel +61 2 9372 4433
Fax +61 4 0148 8562

From today Australian researchers in industries like agriculture and natural disaster management can apply to direct the Earth observation satellite NovaSAR-1 by accessing Australia’s share of the satellite, managed by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency.

This will mark the first time Australia has managed its own source of Earth observation data, contributing to the growth of the nation’s space industry.

The satellite can take images of the Earth through all weather conditions, including heavy cloud and smoke, offering a valuable data advantage to the many industries now harnessing the estimated $2.5 billion in economic benefits from the Earth observation sector.

Dave Williams, CSIRO’s Executive Director Digital, National Facilities and Collections said CSIRO would be operating its share of the satellite as a national facility available to Australian researchers.

“CSIRO has a strong track record of hosting world-class national research infrastructure on behalf of the nation, including radio telescopes, a marine research vessel, a high-containment facility for researching infectious diseases, supercomputers, biological collections and digital capability,” Dr Williams said.

“Although Australia is one of the largest users of Earth observation data, until now we have not had direct control over the tasking of an Earth observation satellite, so the opening of our NovaSAR-1 facility represents a step change for Australian research and an important step forward for our space industry.”

Satellite data will be downloaded to a receiving station near Alice Springs owned by the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT), Australia’s first and only Aboriginal-owned-and-operated ground segment service provider.

Peter Renehan, CfAT CEO, said access to NovaSAR-1 has the potential to benefit many Indigenous communities, like Indigenous rangers who look after land and sea and can use imagery from space to help do their jobs.

“It’s important that we can build and own facilities like this right here in central Australia and feel proud that Aboriginal Australians are making such an important contribution to supporting the development of Australia’s sovereign capability in the space industry,” Mr Renehan said.

Dr Amy Parker, CSIRO Satellite Operations and Data Manager, said synthetic aperture radar imagery like that from NovaSAR-1 has not been widely used in Australia before.

“So far, we’ve used the satellite to capture over 1,000 images, all of which are now available to users. NovaSAR-1 is an exciting addition to the country’s Earth observation resources while also helping us to build our capabilities in satellite operations,” Dr Parker said.

Applications to use the NovaSAR-1 national facility will be reviewed by an independent committee and allocated based on the scientific merit of the proposed research.

To access the NovaSAR-1 data or find out more about applying for satellite time, visit CSIRO NovaSAR-1 national facility at http://www.csiro.au/novasar

About the NovaSAR-1 satellite

The NovaSAR-1 satellite, developed by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited in the UK, utilises S-band synthetic aperture radar (or SAR), providing medium and high-resolution images of Earth from space. In September 2017 Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, purchased a 10 per cent share of time on the satellite. The agreement allows CSIRO to direct the NovaSAR-1 satellite to collect data through a range of observation modes with priority over the Australian region for the duration of the mission. CSIRO is operating its share of NovaSAR-1 as a national research facility.

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CSIRO campus

CSIRO -Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (AU) , is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

CSIRO works with leading organisations around the world. From its headquarters in Canberra, CSIRO maintains more than 50 sites across Australia and in France, Chile and the United States, employing about 5,500 people.

Federally funded scientific research began in Australia 104 years ago. The Advisory Council of Science and Industry was established in 1916 but was hampered by insufficient available finance. In 1926 the research effort was reinvigorated by establishment of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which strengthened national science leadership and increased research funding. CSIR grew rapidly and achieved significant early successes. In 1949 further legislated changes included renaming the organisation as CSIRO.

Notable developments by CSIRO have included the invention of atomic absorption spectroscopy; essential components of Wi-Fi technology; development of the first commercially successful polymer banknote; the invention of the insect repellent in Aerogard and the introduction of a series of biological controls into Australia, such as the introduction of myxomatosis and rabbit calicivirus for the control of rabbit populations.

Research and focus areas

Research Business Units

As at 2019, CSIRO’s research areas are identified as “Impact science” and organised into the following Business Units:

Agriculture and Food
Health and Biosecurity
Data 61
Energy
Land and Water
Manufacturing
Mineral Resources
Oceans and Atmosphere

National Facilities

CSIRO manages national research facilities and scientific infrastructure on behalf of the nation to assist with the delivery of research. The national facilities and specialized laboratories are available to both international and Australian users from industry and research. As at 2019, the following National Facilities are listed:

Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL)
Australia Telescope National Facility – radio telescopes included in the Facility include the Australia Telescope Compact Array, the Parkes Observatory, Mopra Observatory and the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder.

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CSIRO Pawsey Supercomputing Centre AU)

Others not shown

SKA

SKA- Square Kilometer Array

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