Data derived from observation satellite systems is generating new innovative geo-information products and services for a growing range of applications.
In agriculture, satellites are delivering information about soil condition and the growth status of crops. This data forms the basis for precision farming, enabling irrigation, fertilisation and insecticide deployment procedures to be optimised in well-defined geographical areas.
In forestry, information from Earth observation satellites is making it easier to conduct large-scale inventories of tree-cover, especially in remote regions such as the tropical rain forest or the tundra, where mapping by terrestrial means is well-nigh impossible. Even in moderate latitudes, too, satellites help to evaluate the condition of the trees and provide data for the sustainable exploitation and certification of forest areas.
The energy supply sector uses satellite data for the planning and monitoring of supply networks. For instance, oil pipelines and high-tension lines can be monitored from space. In addition, satellite data is also used to detect new raw material deposits.
Naturally, satellite data has become almost indispensable for cartography. It serves as the basis for topographical maps and for area development planning. In addition, it is also used for regional and urban planning, as well as for environmental protection purposes.
The development of digital elevation models, created by satellite radar interferometry, opens up new application dimensions, going far beyond simple mapping. Notably, digital elevation models are valuable tools for risk evaluation and disaster management, for example helping to forecast the progress of flooding and predict areas which are particularly at risk.
The Airbus Defence and Space subsidiary Infoterra is a world leader in the geospatial data sector, providing innovative ‘geo-information solutions’: acquiring and processing data; undertaking data analysis; reviewing GIS data implementation; hosting and delivering large datasets, training and consultancy.
Infoterra’s institutional customers include the EC and ESA, the European and national environment agencies, government ministries and regional mapping authorities. Commercial customers are many and varied: GSM telecoms operators for network planning; agricultural bodies; oil companies using radar observation data for exploration; insurance companies for local risk assessments; and mapping companies who use an Infoterra-developed tool, Pixel Factory™, to rapidly generate high-quality maps.
Infoterra is also a major player in the European programme GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) as industry leader in three of the four primary GMES areas: land cover (geoland project), natural risk management (Risk-EOS initiative) and humanitarian aid (RESPOND consortium).
Infoterra’s already exceptional access to Earth observation satellite data will be enhanced still further with the advent of the new radar satellite TerraSAR-X, designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space with cheduled for launch in 2007. TerraSAR-X, to be exploited by Infoterra, will provide X-band radar data of the entire globe of unprecedented quality, with resolution of one metre. This asset will enable a host of new uniquely client-targeted information products to be generated.