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Providing high-resolution COSMO-SkyMed SAR imagery to the UK

The Satellite Applications Catapult is leading the COSMO-SkyMed Radar Science and Innovation Research (CORSAIR) programme for the UK. The move will facilitate access to data obtained from the COSMO-SkyMed satellites for research and development (R&D) activities.

The CORSAIR programme follows the contract awarded to the Catapult and Telespazio VEGA UK to install a ground system to order, receive and process high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data from the Italian COSMO-SkyMed (Constellation of Small Satellites for Mediterranean basin Observation) mission. A bilateral agreement between the UK Space Agency and Italian Space Agency (ASI), will, for the first time, allow, COSMO-SkyMed data to be delivered directly to the UK for processing.

Real-time Applications

The COSMO-SkyMed system is a constellation of four identical X-band SAR satellites owned by ASI and the Italian Ministry of Defence, and operated commercially by e-GEOS, an ASI/Telespazio company. Its data is used on a global basis for near real-time applications such as extreme weather impact assessment, environmental crisis management, and security monitoring both on and offshore. The four-satellite constellation with its high revisit frequency and rapid response time is ideal for Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) applications, such as monitoring ground displacement resulting from volcanoes and earthquakes.

The CORSAIR programme is open to any UK research and development activities looking to develop proof of concepts, demonstrators, prototypes or trials for scientific research, products or applications.

Benefits for UK R&D

Stuart Martin, CEO of the Satellite Applications Catapult, said: “The COSMO-SkyMed constellation is equipped with SAR instruments, capable of operating in all visibility conditions at high-resolution. Its ability to see through cloud and at night enables researchers to accumulate data over a wide area in a very short time. A key benefit of this programme is that it gives the UK research community access to data with which to develop new applications or services for commercial applications, as well as for scientific research.”

Applications to CORSAIR

After the success of the first round of the CORSAIR programme, we invite academia and business to apply for COSMO-SkyMed data. Applications for the CORSAIR programme can be submitted at any time through the Catapult website ( which also contains more information.
We are currently accepting applications and the next round of reviews will take place after the closing date of 1 February, 2016. After this time applications will be accepted and be peer-reviewed at three monthly intervals by an external evaluation team.

  • Period 2: 1 February 2016
  • Period 3: 1 May 2016
  • Period 4: 1 August 2016
    Further dates will be communicated after June 2016

CSK Himage (3m) Multitemporal RGB composite over Wallingford, UK. 2013: R: May 15th G: Aug 19th B: Nov 23rd COSMOSkyMed Product – © ASI 2013. All rights reserved. Distributed by e-GEOS, processed under licence from ASI by Telespazio VEGA UK Ltd.

Article first appeared in the November issue of GeoConnexion UK
Author: Terri Freemantle, Satellite Applications Catapult, Earth Observation Specialist