Australia’s satellite image capabilities have been given a massive multi-million-dollar boost in a new deal between the CSIRO and UK company Surrey Satellite Technology.
Across the seven-year arrangement – valued at $10.45 million – Principal research scientist Dr Alex Held said the CSIRO would have 10% access to British satellite NovaSar to produce images to tackle natural disasters and crime, the ABC reports.
"We can basically turn on the camera or turn it off as it flies over and collect the amount of data we want," he said.
Dr Held said the CSIRO would be able to use satellite imagery to assist during “disaster” situations such as bushfires or cyclones, alongside tracking deforestation and illegal shipping.
"We have a computer terminal sitting in Australia and we can basically program the satellite from here through the British operations centre to collect data anywhere we want around the world, with highest priority over our region,” he said.
Announced in Adelaide at the International Astronautical Congress, 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.”