Sensing from space [ID14D2]

06 November 2014

With an eye on meeting regional needs for wide-area maritime surveillance, UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) (Hall A, Stand 025) is showcasing the capabilities of its new NovaSAR-S low-cost earth observation satellite.

The 400kg NovaSAR-S combines the flight-proven SSTL-300 platform with a new solid-state S-band Synthetic Aperture Array (SAR) payload – based on the latest Gallium Nitride transmit/receive module technology – developed in collaboration with Airbus Defence & Space.

SSTL claims that NovaSAR-S sets a new benchmark in a ffordability and performance for space-borne systems, delivering all-weather, medium-resolution Earth observation data at a price similar to traditional optical missions, and significantly lower than any other SAR platform currently on the market.

A first NovaSAR-S system, 50 per cent funded by the UK government, is planned to go into orbit in late 2015.

According to SSTL, a remote surveillance system based on NovaSAR-S satellites could provide a country such as Indonesia with a robust and responsive independent sensing capability to watch over its vast maritime domain. In a 30° inclined orbit, the revisit rate for two satellites would be an average 16 hours in imaging mode, and an average eight hours in target detection mode.

The SAR payload features a ‘super-wide’ 750km maritime mode for ship detection. Conventional SAR modes can be used to evaluate specific targets in more detail, with ship wake detection used to determine speed and heading. Additionally, ScanSAR modes will detect oil spills in both coastal environments and open ocean.

Another feature of NovaSAR-S is the integration of an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver secondary payload. Correlation of SAR and AIS data provides additional information to inform and support shipping, fishing and customs authorities.

(278 words)