An international consortium* led by the University of NSW plans to begin designing satellite 3D mapping from space that could help monitor disasters like floods and fires. The 3-year project just moved closer to reality following a $4.7 million grant from the Federal Government’s Space Research Program that is being matched by the group.
The consortium plans to explore new satellite radar surveying technologies and develop supporting navigation hardware, boosting Australia’s credentials in the US$250 billion global space industry in the process. Satellites equipped with Synthetic Aperture Radar-or SAR which is unaffected by smoke, cloud or dust-flying in small formations will be key to creating far more accurate and timely topographic images than currently possible.
“It has the potential to change the way we predict and manage environmental problems like floods, bushfires, storms, deforestation and possibly even earthquakes,” Associate Professor Andrew Dempster of UNSW’s School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems said.
"Small, relatively low cost satellites flying side-by-side can give us instant 3D surface maps, while vertical patterns flying one above the other might allow us to examine the depth of forest bio-mass.”
“This is cutting edge technology that not only bolsters Australia’s space surveillance capacity, but could offer faster, smarter solutions for environmental problems,” Associate Professor Dempster said.
*The consortium also includes Curtin University of Technology in WA, BAE Systems in SA, the Netherlands Delft University of Technology, UK’s Astrium Ltd, and General Dynamics of New Zealand.
Article contributed by Steve Freeth