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TUBITAK UZAY and Remote Sensing Activities

The Space Technologies Research Institute (formerly known as TUBITAK BILTEN – Information Technologies and Electronics Research Institute) is founded in 1985, under the framework of a protocol signed between the Middle East Technical University (METU) and The Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) as a publicly funded research institute.

The aim of TUBITAK UZAY is to identify and solve research problems in the space technologies, specifically satellite systems and information technologies domain and become a pioneer, proactive, effective and influential center of attraction, which focuses on sub-areas having strategic importance for public interest and creates an integrated approach in space technologies, information technologies and electronics research fields.
The Institute gives prominence to
• Creating and acquiring know-how,
• Developing prototypes for and with the Turkish industry,
• Providing technical consultancy services,
• Training of researchers and technical staff and
• Establishing necessary infrastructure
in the research areas of interest.
The Institute conducts national or international projects with the industry in space technologies, information technologies or other areas related to electronics. The goal is to catch the state-of-the-art and to have a pioneering role in the national research community.
TUBITAK UZAY also helps the industry in solving technical problems encountered during system design, product development and manufacturing.
Research Areas:
TUBITAK UZAY conducts its research and development activities in the following areas with a total of 216 staff members, out of which 175 are researchers and technical support personnel.
Space Technologies: Satellite systems, satellite sub-systems, satellite ground station sub-systems, satellite test and integration systems.
Electronics: Communication systems, electronics system design, electro-optic mission payload, high-speed digital design, IC design.
Software: Computer vision, speech processing, pattern recognition, remote sensing, multimedia technologies.
Power Electronics: Power quality, compensation systems, electrical motor drives, switching power supplies, renewable energy resources.
Power Distribution Systems: Analysis of electric production and transmission systems, strategic research and development in distribution automation, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems (SCADA).
Activities in Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems:
TUBITAK UZAY has participated/conducted various projects employing GIS and RS. TU-REMOSENS is one of those projects. The project was supported by NATO and conducted together with Middle East Technical University. The main objectives of the project were:
• Installation and operation of a NOAA/HRPT receiving station
• Implementation of a NOAA/HRPT image archive of the region and a database of the snow cover and hydrologic parameters of the study region
• Operation of a snowmelt run-off model of the study area, with the data collected from field and extracted from satellite image data
• Establishment of an operational Dust Transport Model for the detection and deposition of dust.
In this project the main GIS and RS studies were conducted in TUBITAK UZAY.
Another area of study in TUBITAK UZAY related to GIS is AM/FM systems as they applied to electric distribution systems. Creating synergy with other studies conducted in UZAY, on electric distribution system master planning, an original approach for modeling Turkish urban electric distribution system was created. This approach later used in pilot projects for Istanbul.
In addition to the ones mentioned above, some other small size RS and GIS projects conducted as well and consultancy services have been provided.
Space activities of the institute were initiated under Satellite Technologies Group in 1998. In August 2001, within the framework of an agreement between SSTL (Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, UK) and TUBITAK UZAY, “BilSat Earth Observation Microsatellite Project” has been started to develop and propagate small satellite technologies in Turkey. BilSat was successfully launched from Plesetsk Cosmodrome (Russia) in 27 September 2003. BilSat is Turkey’s first Earth observation satellite and it is operated by TUBITAK UZAY. Since 2003, BilSat images have been opened to public access locally to be used for scientific purpose. BilSat satellite is also a part of DMC (Disaster Monitoring Constellation) which is a program led by SSTL aiming at rapid-response disaster monitoring and mitigation.
TUBITAK UZAY has gained the capability to build small satellites in the framework of BilSat technology transfer project. After the completion of BilSat project, TUBITAK UZAY initiated RASAT Earth Observation Satellite Project” which aims at building and launching first domestic Earth observation microsatellite of Turkey. In April 2006, preliminary design study of RASAT was already performed. It is expected to be launched in late 2008 and send images in early 2009. With RASAT, Turkey will have another Earth observation satellite with much better specifications (Table 1).
Table 1. Specifications of the Turkish Earth observation satellites BilSat and RASAT
Turkish RS Satellites
129 kg
110 kg
686 km circular, sun synchronous
700 km circular, sun synchronous
Attitude Control
3-axis stabilized
3-axis stabilized
Orbital Cycle
Panchromatic : 12.6
Multispectral : 27.6 m
Panchromatic : 7.5
Multispectral : 15 m
September 2003
Life time
5+10 years
5 years
Spectral resolution (µm)
0.45 – 0.90
Band 1: 0.45 – 0.52 (Blue)

Band 2: 0.52 – 0.60 (Green)

Band 3: 0.63 – 0.69 (Red)

Band 4: 0.76 – 0.90 (Near Infrared)
0.42 – 0.73
Band 1: 0.42 – 0.55 (Blue)
Band 2: 0.55 – 0.63 (Green)
Band 3: 0.58 – 0.73 (Red)
Radiometric resolution
8 bit
8 bit
Swath width
55 km
30 km
Temporal resolution
4 days
4 days
Optical payload
comprises a panchromatic imager (
resolution) and a four-band multispectral imager (
26 m resolution).

Payloads developed

GEZGiN: Image
processor capable of high-speed multi-spectral image compression using the
JPEG2000 algorithms,

eight-band multispectral imager with a ground sampling distance of
120 m. Band Frequencies:

375-425 nm
410-490 nm
460-540 nm
510-590 nm
560-640 nm
610-690 nm
660-740 nm
850-1000 nm

Number of pixels: 640 × 480

Optical payload
comprises a pushbroom type imager with one high-resolution panchromatic (
7.5 m resolution) and three
medium-resolution (
15 m
resolution) multispectral bands.

Payloads developed

BiLGE: Flight computer
with the capability to utilize Spacewire,

ALP: Smart Li-Ion
based battery with peak

power tracking,

GEZGiN-2: New
generation image processor capable of high-speed multi-spectral image
compression using the JPEG2000 algorithms with encryption capabilities,

X-Band Transmitter Module: Communication system
100 Mb/s downlink at 7W output.

TUBITAK UZAY has also made projects on developing tools for low cost remote sensing and photogrammetry. In this framework, a coastal zone in Turkey has been imaged using commercial off the shelf cameras, using various manned and unmanned vehicles as imaging platform. Also some software for bundle adjustment, mosaicing and stereoscopic matching has been developed in house. Also, various partnerships and projects are being developed for photogrammetry and RS from UAVs.
TUBITAK UZAY has also been working on various branches of computer vision. One of the projects of computer vision is a product named BALISTIKA. In the project, a system has been developed to obtain 3D information of cartridge cases and bullets and match them automatically. The system uses photometric stereo method to obtain 3D data and uses various computer vision techniques to process and match them.
Consequently, TUBITAK UZAY is an institute, conducting research on peaceful use of space, satellite technologies and remote sensing, promoting researchers and end users to use the satellite data, disseminating satellite data, participating and conducting projects about earth system modeling and observation, developing instrumentation for earth observation.
TUBITAK Space Technologies Research Institute
METU Campus, 06531 Ankara, Turkey
Tel: +90 312 2101310
Fax: +90 312 2101315