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Multi-Mission SAR at Oil-on-Water 2018

The Norwegian Oil-on-Water (OPV) exercise is unique. Norway being one of the very few countries that allow the release of actual oil on water, it attracts international participation and attention. KSAT, an important contributor since many years, ensures satellite acquisitions from a broad variety of satellites throughout the entire drill.

Gaofen-3, launched in August 2016, is China’s first Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)-imaging satellite and was tested during the oil on water exercise in Norway in June.

Beginning of June more than 100 m3 of oil was released in realistic scenarios offshore Norway, using different types of oil and emulsion for verification of recovery equipment and for remote measurements such as satellite, drones and aerostats. Airplanes from the Nordic countries also documented the event.

Pioneering the world of Near-Real Time (NRT) access to Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data from satellites, KSAT´s participation in this exercise is very important for the research and development (R&D) environment in Norway as well as abroad. Through the tailored in-house processing chain, KSAT is able to plan, order, download, process, analyse and distribute large amounts of SAR data from many different SAR satellites through one system.

During the 10 day period of this year´s drill, KSAT was able to acquire more than 40 scenes using 6 different SAR satellite missions. Images were acquired in different modes and polarisations, ensuring a unique spectre of documentation so that findings in these datasets can be compared to the amount and type of oil released during the exercise.
This is the reason why satellite data from the OPV is so valuable; it offers a unique opportunity to collect congruent information; satellite images and in-situ observations. For scientists, both from a remote sensing and modelling perspective, the lack of in-situ observation is a major challenge.

CIRFA – Centre for Integrated Remote Sensing and Forecasting for Arctic Operations, is one of the main users of this data, and their goal is to develop better models to predict the drift of oil spills and to better understand the interaction between the radar signal and the slick. .
The satellites missions used were the European Sentinel, Italian Cosmo SkyMED constellation, Canadian Radarsat-2, German TerraSAR-X. In addition two brand new SAR-missions were tested; the Spanish PAZ and Chinese Gaofen-3.
The Chinese Gaofen-3, launched in August 2016, is China’s first synthetic aperture radar-imaging satellite. PAZ was launched 22. February this year and will be included in the KSAT NRT portfolio after commission phase next year.

The exercise is conducted by NOFO, the Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies. With the overall goal to strengthen the national capacity on environmental monitoring and oil recovery.