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COSMO-SkyMed for Emergencies – detailed study of the Abruzzo case

(26th June, 2009) INNOVA Consorzio per l’Informatica e la Telematica has assisted ASI (Italian Space Agency) in a detailed study of how the COSMO-SkyMed system responds to an emergency situation, looking into the specific case of the 5.8 Ml magnitude earthquake that hit central Italy on Monday 6th of April 2009.

The COSMO-SkyMed (CSK) constellation has been designed and developed to maximise its flexibility and innovative data acquisition capabilities, taking into account three operational modes:

Routine mode, the nominal operation of the system, in which the planning is scheduled every 24 hours;

Crisis mode, where planning is done every 12 hours. In this mode it is possible to specify the areas of acquisition. Any crisis acquisition requests have absolute priority;

Very urgent mode, asynchronous acquisition activated under exceptional circumstances in order to obtain acquisitions of a specific area in the fastest possible manner.

The acquisition schedule can be rapidly changed to ensure the prompt response of the system to a crisis or emergency situation. When added to the special characteristics of the constellation, its ground segment, the high resolution products generated and their usability in applications to prevent, monitor and manage natural disaster and emergency situations, CSK becomes a sensor of maximum importance to supply essential information to entities in charge of planning and carrying out assistance, first aid and detailed evaluation of the damages caused by an emergency situation.

The detailed study carried out by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) in collaboration with INNOVA is based on the analysis of historical COSMO-SkyMed (CSK) data of the disaster area acquired by the system before the event and the large number of images acquired of the Abruzzo area after the earthquake of the 6th of April. The object of the study is to carry out a detailed interferometric analysis of all available CSK of the disaster area, provide detailed information of the seismic events that have taken place in the Abruzzo area, and assess the value of CSK data to monitor and manage natural disaster and emergency situations and to produce mathematical models of the physical phenomena behind them.

A brief preview

Fig. 1 shows a CSK Stripmap Interferogram of the earthquake area, based on a pre-event master dated 23rd March and a post-event slave dated 23rd April. The topographic phase has been removed using SRTM DEM.

Fig. 2 shows the 204 shelters that form one of the homeless tent camps put up by aid workers to house 40,000 of the 66,000 people left homeless by the earthquake. The left hand side of the figure shows a CSK Spotlight Multi-temporal image using RGB technique. The colour blue shows the changes that have taken place in the area after the earthquake. The individual tents are clearly visible to the naked eye, as clearly evident when comparing to the optical equivalent from a DigitalGlobe image.

The full paper of the study will be presented during the 15th Ka and Broadband Communications Navigation and Earth Observation Conference, that will take place from the 23rd to the 25th of September in Cagliari, Italy.

All activities have been carried out within the ASI-INNOVA contract “ASI-GRID”.

Figure 1 – CSK Stripmap Interferogram 23rd March – 23rd April and Figure 2 – CSK Spotlight Multi-temporal RGB & DigitalGlobe Optical equivalent


Headquartered in Matera, Italy, INNOVA Consorzio per l’Informatica e la Telematica s.r.l. is a technology provider in the remote sensing field, with experience in the development of Fleet Management and Geographical Information Systems (GIS), know-how and expertise geared towards the Earth Observation industry and the Public Administration Sector, and highly specialized knowledge of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), High Performance Computing (HPC) and GRID technology.

For more information, please contact our International Relations Manager, Marina Doubell:
Phone: +39.0835.1852129