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SEAS: Satellite monitoring of the Amazon environment

Officially opened in early February, the satellite receiving station on CNES-CSG Montabo hill in Cayenne, French Guiana, is now receiving ASAR images from ESA’s Envisat radar satellite and from the CNES‘s SPOT 2, SPOT 4 and SPOT 5 optical satellites.

Receiving terminals and an image processing centre have been set up at the unit belonging to France’s IRD1 development research institute near the receiving antenna, where a joint IRD-Spot Image team is managing operations.
This receiving station is an exceptional source of data for French Guiana, unique in South America. It will make it possible to build up a large bank of satellite imagery, in particular to enhance understanding and monitoring of the dynamics driving change in the Amazon and Caribbean environments, and to gain closer insights into ecosystems, manage natural resources and support land-planning decisions.
This technology platform set up by IRD was co-funded chiefly by the French Guiana regional council, CNES, the French government and European funds (ERDF2), and is being operated under a close scientific partnership between IRD and Spot Image. The other project partners are the French Guiana general council, the Université des Antilles et de la Guyane, the French Guiana university cluster, ESA and the Guyane Technopole association.
The SEAS3 receiving station in Cayenne has a threefold objective:
• give French Guiana and its universities a technology platform providing local capabilities to exploit satellite imagery and integrate it in all application areas where it is needed
• meet the demand for imagery in a region where frequent cloud cover calls for repeated acquisitions to piece together a clear picture of territories
• launch concrete application projects involving the research community, local authorities and industry
A permanent call for projects will allow the Guianese scientific community, local authorities and government agencies to propose applications using imagery collected in French Guiana and made available by the project partners.
Training and technology exploitation involving public organizations and ground-breaking firms are an important feature of the project. It is hoped that this effort will encourage teams in French Guiana to participate in national and international programmes, spur regional cooperation—particularly with regions in northern Brazil—and create the conditions to nurture value-added firms working on Amazon applications.
1 Institut de Recherche pour le Développement
2 European Regional Development Fund
3 Surveillance de l’Environnement Amazonien par Satellite
(Credits Spot Image)