Have you (almost) completed your degree studies? Are you inspired by space exploration and keen to pursue a career in this exciting field? If so, perhaps you should take a closer look at the German Trainee Programme. Organised by DLR, it offers you the chance to work shoulder to shoulder with experts from the 22 member states of ESA – keeping your finger on the pulse of Europe‘s space programmes. Over a period up to 24 months, you will actively contribute to the latest research and/or technology projects. This is complemented by a generous scholarship. What better way to launch your career in international space business? The next GTP commences on 1 February 2018.
This is your opportunity to join the team at ESTEC in Noordwijk, The Netherlands.
GTP-2018-EOP-SME – SAR and Forest Change
The Earth and Mission Science Division (MSD) is part of the Science, Applications and Climate Department, within the Earth Observation Programmes Directorate. The Division is responsible for ensuring the application of scientific and other user community requirements in all phases of the development of Earth Observation missions, from precursor studies through to initial in-orbit satellite operations, and for ensuring coherence throughout with the objectives expressed in the mission requirements documents, including the management of mission-specific advisory structures (where required). In support of the preparations for each ESA Earth Observation mission, the Division initiates and conducts supporting scientific studies (in house and external), and organizes, coordinates and executes related Campaigns for the purpose of acquiring airborne, balloon borne, or in-situ data.
Forests cover 31% of the land area on our planet. They produce vital oxygen and provide homes for people and wildlife. Many of the world’s most threatened and endangered animals live in forests, and 1.6 billion people rely on benefits forests offer, including food, fresh water, clothing, traditional medicine and shelter. Despite their importance forests around the world are under threat from deforestation, jeopardizing these benefits. Deforestation comes in many forms, including fires, clear-cutting for agriculture, ranching and development, unsustainable logging for timber, and degradation due to climate change. Since 1990, some 129 million hectares of forest – an area almost equivalent in size to South Africa – have been lost according to FAO’s most comprehensive forest review to date. To control this thread and to monitor global forests, a number of international initiatives (e.g. Global Forest Watch, Earth Engine Partners) use Earth Observation data. All of these techniques use optical imagery which suffer some critical limitations such as a limited observation frequency due to cloud cover and a lack of sensitivity to changes in forest structure.
In this activity, the potential of the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems for deforestation monitoring shall be assessed. The advantage of SAR is its all-weather, day and night monitoring capability and its sensitive to structural changes in the observed scene. In addition systems such as Sentinel-1 offer a high observation frequency. To assess the potential of SAR systems for deforestation monitoring a recently developed statistically-based change detection indicator  shall be implemented and applied to Sentinel-1 image time series for selected sites. The aim of the work is to assess the feasibility of this algorithm for deforestation detection and to adopt the algorithm for a future Sentinel-1 deforestation monitoring suite. Challenges in the use of SAR data for change detection to be addressed are the noise and speckle properties of SAR images and natural environmental change (such as seasonal changes in canopy moisture). Finally, the potential of the technique for future SAR missions, such as ESA’s BIOMASS Earth Explorer shall be assessed.
 K. Conradsen, A. Aasbjerg Nielsen and H. Skriver (2016). Determining the points of change in time series of polarimetric SAR data. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 54(5), 3007-3024.
Please apply by 6 September 2017.
- Master/PhD in Geoinformatics, Geosciences, Geophysics
- programming experience is required (e.g. Python, IDL, MatLab)
- a mathematical background and/or knowledge of SAR remote sensing is an advantage
- German citizenship is absolutely necessary
- applicants should have just completed (conclusion not older than two years) or be in their final year of a university course at Master’s level in a technical or scientific discipline
- candidates must be fluent in English or French, the official languages of the agency