CSIRO has secured access to one of the world’s most sophisticated high-performance satellites, giving Australian scientists direct control over which data the satellite collects over our region and placing the national science agency at the forefront of Australia’s civilian space science sector.

This animation shows the NovaSAR satellite developed by UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology collecting data over South Australia, using S-band Synthetic Aperture Radar that provides high resolution images of Earth from space.

NovaSAR satellite :  The technology behind the NovaSAR satellite enables images to be taken day and night, and through cloud cover, which is especially useful in tropical zones and cloud-affected areas.

Additional Resources

Resources for media

  • Multimedia assets including animation of NovaSAR in space, video and images of the satellite being built and tested, and radio news grabs, are all available for download via Dropbox   or Cloudstor   (same content)

News Release 

Due for launch later this year, the NovaSAR satellite will provide CSIRO and the wider Australian research community with access to an advanced form of radar technology known as S-band Synthetic Aperture Radar, or S-band SAR, which provides high resolution images of Earth from space.

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

It enables images to be taken day and night, and through cloud cover, which is especially useful in tropical zones and cloud-affected areas.

CSIRO and SSTL have agreed to a 10 per cent share of ‘tasking and acquisition’ time on the NovaSAR satellite. Under the terms of the agreement, worth $10.45 million over seven years, CSIRO has the right to direct the satellite’s activity over Australia, download and process data, and make these data available to the wider research community.

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

Australia’s Federal Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Arthur Sinodinos , said the agreement was a timely investment in Australia’s space capability.

“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,” Minister Sinodinos said.

“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.”

Dr Dave Williams, Executive Director of Digital, National Facilities and Collections at CSIRO, said the deal represented a significant investment in Australia’s space capability.

“The aim is to manage the The NovaSAR satellite as a natural extension of the significant role CSIRO already plays in managing a range of National Facilities, on behalf of the Australian community of scientists and for the benefit of the nation,” Dr Williams said.

“Because we’ll be able to direct the satellite’s activity, it provides significant opportunities to support a wide range of existing research, further develop Australia’s earth observation data analytics expertise, and create new opportunities in the field of remote sensing.”

These new opportunities hold potential for building stronger research partnerships between the government, universities and the wider space industry in Australia.

In developing the NovaSAR-S technology, Commercial Director of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, Luis Gomes, said the NovaSAR-s system provided revolutionary technology to deliver imagery at any point on the globe.

“Our partnership on the NovaSAR mission with CSIRO will greatly enhance Australia’s sovereign Earth observation capability,” Mr Gomes said.

“The NovaSAR-S technology enables data collection 24/7, regardless of daylight or weather conditions, which is particularly important for this continent with an area with a tropical climate and a large coastline territory.

“We look forward to working with CSIRO as one of our key partners over the next seven years to provide cutting-edge geo-spatial data for Australia’s benefit.”

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Images

  • The NovaSAR satellite in orbit above Earth

    The NovaSAR satellite will provide CSIRO and the wider Australian research community with access to an advanced form of radar technology known as S-band Synthetic Aperture Radar, or S-band SAR, which provides high resolution images of Earth from space.  ©Surrey Satellite Technology

    Download image
  • A technician works on the NovaSAR satellite in clean room.

    NovaSAR enables images to be taken day and night, and through cloud cover, which is especially useful in tropical zones and cloud-affected areas.  ©AIRBUS DEFENCE & SPACE

    Download image
  • The NovaSAR satellite

    "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" - Minister Sinodinos.  ©Surrey Satellite Technology

    Download image
  • A technician works on the NovaSAR satellite in clean room.

    CSIRO and SSTL have agreed to a 10 per cent share of ‘tasking and acquisition’ time on the NovaSAR satellite.  ©AIRBUS DEFENCE & SPACE

    Download image

Audio

Additional information

CSIRO and space

CSIRO is Australia's national science agency. For 100 years it has delivered positive impact from science and technology, including a successful history in the space sector.

  • The NovaSAR satellite will be managed in the Space Program of CSIRO’s Astronomy and Space Science group. This team already successfully manages the Australian Telescope National Facility (ATNF) comprising Parkes, the Compact Array and ASKAP. Collectively, these are just one of the National Facilities owned and operated by CSIRO for the nation’s research community.
  • We understand the power of Earth observation data to inform policy, manage natural environments and generate agricultural and industrial development opportunities.

Our partnerships with industry are delivering breakthrough innovations that support supply chains, from imaging and sensor technologies to autonomous robotics, new materials and manufacturing processes.

About SSTL

Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) is the world's leading small satellite company, delivering operational space missions for a range of applications including Earth observation, science and communications. The Company designs, manufactures and operates high performance satellites and ground systems with 500 staff working on turnkey satellite platforms, space-proven satellite subsystems and optical instruments. Since 1981, SSTL has built and launched 50 satellites for 20 international customers. For more information: www.sstl.co.uk

News release contact

Owen Craig

Digital, National Facilities And Collections

Thea Williams

Communication Officer

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