The first all-British radar satellite is set to go into orbit later to monitor suspicious shipping activity.
Lift-off of the NovaSAR satellite is scheduled from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India at 17:37 BST today.
NovaSAR-S is a joint technology demonstration initiative of SSTL (Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.), UK, and Airbus DS (former EADS Astrium Ltd, Stevenage, UK), funded by the UK Government via the UKSA (UK Space Agency). The overall objective is to make SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) observation missions more affordable to a customer base and to open up new application-oriented in the microwave region of the spectrum.
The company say that in the past decade, programmes such as the DMC (Disaster Monitoring Constellation) have proven that a low cost, small satellite approach can provide solutions for medium resolution EO (Earth Observation) applications. However, these have all been optical missions. SAR missions have well known night time and all weather advantages over optical missions but have not yet made the same evolutionary step.
NovaSAR-S reportedly provides medium resolution (6-30m) imagery ideal for applications in the following fields:
– flood monitoring
– agricultural crop assessment
– forest monitoring (temperate and rain forest)
– land use mapping
– disaster management
– maritime applications (e.g. ship detection, oil spill monitoring, maritime safety, and security of defence applications).
The UK Space Agency has invested £21M in the development of NovaSAR-1 and will benefit from access to data from the spacecraft, significantly boosting the UK’s sovereign Earth observation capabilities and leveraging additional inward investment to the UK by creating highly skilled jobs in the UK space industry, and stimulating the growth of data analysis services.
Also on the PSLV-C42 launch will be the SSTL S1-4, a sub-one metre resolution Earth observation satellite with a mass of 440kg that will further enhance SSTL’s existing in-orbit observation capabilities, say the firm.