26 September 2023

CSIRO takes control of Earth satellite

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The Commonwealth Science and Industry Research Organisation (CSIRO) has taken control of the Earth observation satellite NovaSAR-1 for the first time, offering Australian researchers the opportunity to use it for their projects.

Executive Director Digital, National Facilities and Collections at CSIRO, Dave Williams said Australian researchers in industries like agriculture and natural disaster management could now apply to direct the satellite.

“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,” Dr Williams said.

“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,” he 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.”

Dr Williams said satellite data would 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.

The Executive Director said CSIRO would operate its share of the satellite as a national facility available to Australian researchers.

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

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