The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has issued a Letter of Interest (LOI) for seven priority technologies the agency wants industry to develop under its Space Technology Development Program.
The technologies include: improved wide-field astronomical imaging; exoplanet search; advanced planetary exploration instruments; improvements in synthetic aperture radar imaging; and the use block chain with Earth observation data.
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) High Speed On-Board Processing
The need for on-board processing (OBP) of data for space-based missions continues to grow due to the increasing quantity of data being acquired by satellites along with operational requirements calling for rapid response to collected data. Processing data on-board a satellite can provide additional advantages which include improved payload performance, reduced consumption, and decreased data latency. The advantages of OBP are especially pertinent to Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite missions as they typically acquire radar images at high data rates and require significant processing before the information can be extracted.
Accordingly, two types of future SAR missions have been identified that could benefit from OBP, and will be the focus of this study:
i) Earth Observation Missions: OBP could be used to extract information in near-realtime (NRT) and react quickly and automatically to this information. E.g., Image data could be acquired over a flooded area using a large swath and coarse resolution, processed on-board, and analyzed to identify critical areas in NRT and subsequently task high-resolution images.
ii) Interplanetary Mission: OBP could reduce the volume of data by a factor of 10 or more and could allow the spacecraft to make autonomous decisions. E.g., A SAR or optical satellite in orbit around Mars could image the surface, process the data, analyze the results, and then transfer only pertinent data to Earth.
Novel Synthetic Aperture Radar Technologies for Low Cost Wide Area Monitoring
Several trends in SAR technologies can be identified that could potentially improve the ability to satisfy the user needs. A few of these trends are describe here but they are not aimed at restricting the options available to the Contractor and are provided to highlight the range of space and ground based technologies that can be considered under this activity.
- The first trend is the use of much more compact SAR sensors (Iceye, Capella) that can provide satellite with more limited capability but at a much lower cost.
- A second trend observed in SAR is the development of High Resolution Wide Swath system that promises a superior performance from more powerful satellites.
- Finally, the last trend identified consist in increasing the emphasis towards the information versus the actual data.
Cloud-computing for Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Processing
This project will deliver a series of demonstrations of an online platform to discover, access, process, manipulate, and exploit Earth Observation data (such as from Radarsat Constellation Mission (RCM)). These will demonstrate a modern paradigm for connecting RCM data to its consumers, for the purpose of discovering a business model. This activity will demonstrate how users can apply their exploitation algorithms within the online platform, and therefore reduce the amount of data transfer needed. By using cloud technologies the work will demonstrate how to disseminate RCM data with low latency to geographically diverse users with unpredictable load.
Block Chaining in Service of Earth Observation Big Data
This project proposes to explore new technologies to enhance security and protect valuable Earth Observation (EO) Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data. Distribution of SAR data must be controlled and sensitive data must be protected from unauthorized access. Earth Observation in Canada is subject to multiple regulations such as those that flow from the Remote Systems Sensing Space Act (RSSSA) which, in particular, shape the protection afforded to raw SAR data and the remote sensing products generated from that raw data.