Airbus launches OnePlan for TerraSAR-X – enabling online tasking for radar satellites

We are excited to announce that our One Tasking service has now been extended to our Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites. With the launch of OnePlan for TerraSAR-X, we are strengthening our multi-sensor offer, giving you the opportunity to simply select the best sensor for your projects and to obtain the imagery you requested exactly when you need it!

One Tasking is Airbus’ satellite tasking service, making satellite commissioning risk free, fast and incredibly easy – with an unrivalled commitment to provide our customers with relevant and timely results.

The availability of OnePlan for TerraSAR-X will support customers who require high-quality and precise radar data in many situations – regardless of the weather and daylight conditions: from extensive maritime coverage to environmental mapping, not to mention image interpretation thanks to TerraSAR-X’s unique high resolution.

The launch of OnePlan for TerraSAR-X is a first step of a complete integration of radar into Airbus’ One Tasking offer! Our commitment to providing useful and timely answers for our customers has inspired our decision to further expand One Tasking offer to our radar satellite constellation, thus offering infinite opportunities to combine the sensors and even more possibilities to solve your challenges.

Please visit TerraSAR-X and One Tasking web pages for more information on our radar satellites and tasking capabilities.


Pléiades Helped Locating Hijacked Aris 13 Oil Tanker

THE CHALLENGE

On 13 March 2017, Somali pirates hijacked the Aris 13 oil tanker along with its eight Sri-Lankan crew members, whilst transporting bunker oil from Djibouti to Mogadishu. Once on-board, the armed pirates cut off all the communication and positioning equipment including the Automatic Identification System (AIS) emitter, which regularly transmits the vessel’s identity, position and course. When the CSO Alliance (a maritime community countering maritime crime on a global scale) lost Aris 13’s AIS signal they needed immediate high-resolution imagery to identify the vessel’s location.

The high-resolution Pléiades sensor was charged, with the OneDay tasking option, to obtain high-priority satellite images within 24 hours.

SOLUTION & RESULTS

The high-resolution Pléiades sensor was charged, with the OneDay tasking option, to obtain high-priority satellite images within 24 hours. The first image was taken near the port of Alula, on the north coast of Puntland. The ship was expected there due to the European counter-piracy operation EU NAVFOR (Op Atalanta), which initially indicated that pirates had hijacked the vessel. However, it was not possible to identify Aris 13 in the image taken on the 15 March 2017. A new acquisition was tasked with OneDay to capture the north west of the Port of Abo, in which Aris 13 was visible the next day. The detailed image allowed clear identification of the tanker’s length, width, shape and technical characteristics, and the crane on the middle deck.

BENEFITS
  • Very simple and fast satellite tasking process and imagery delivery through the online GeoStore
  • Satellite images saved time and cost, whilst providing timely visibility of the remote and dangerous area
  • High-resolution imagery enabled clear remote identification
CONCLUSION

The same night that the images were delivered, the Puntland coastguards began negotiations with the pirates and the vessel was released.


Pléiades’ Emergency Response after the 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake in Ecuador

On 16 April 2016, an earthquake measuring a 7.8 magnitude struck Ecuador. Among other cities, the coastal town of Pedernales, which was in close proximity to the epicentre, was severely impacted, with several houses and buildings destroyed. Following the event’s news, Airbus’ Pléiades satellite constellation was immediately tasked to collect the most up to date information of the situation.

The OneNow tasking option, especially designed to answer emergency needs, was urgently activated to acquire Pléiades images of the situation.

The GeoStore web portal was used to instantly access satellite resources: The OneNow tasking option, especially designed to answer emergency needs, was urgently activated to acquire Pléiades images of the situation. On the same day at 16:10pm, just after the tasking plan was updated, an automatic notification confirming the planned acquisition attempt and time was sent to the client.

Only two hours after, at 18:04 pm, the satellite passed over the area of interest, with the image becoming available at 22:13 pm. It took just 4 hours and 9 minutes from image acquisition to the delivery of the fully processed image, providing the customer with visibility of the area on the very same day the order was placed. Using the provided Pléiades’ very high-resolution images, the damage was clearly visible – facilitating detailed insights due to the 50cm products and enabling the planning of an appropriate emergency response.

After, 17 April 2016
Ecuador earthquake
Before, 17 September 2015

Earthquake in Italy – Damage Assessment

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck the centre of the Italian peninsular on 24th August. The mountain village of Pescara del Tronto was almost completely destroyed and the town of Amatrice was turned into a pile of rubble in just a few seconds.

Detailed images of the area, and in particular the two towns most affected, urgently needed aid and the appropriate emergency response planning on the ground. The extra-high tasking priority from OneNow option, utilising the high-resolution Pléiades satellites, was the right solution to obtain detailed coverage quickly. The satellite was quickly programmed using GeoStore.

By comparing the captured images of the situation with a Pléiades archive image of 13th July 2015, the impact of the earthquake on buildings and the roads network was immediately visible on the image captured on 25th August 2016, the day after the disaster.

The OneNow tasking option enables information from Pléiades and SPOT6/7 satellite images to be obtained less than 24 hours after the programming request was made on GeoStore (or directly through the customer’s usual Airbus contact). To obtain most useful results, up to three forced satellite acquisitions are proposed to provide coverage of the area of interest at the soonest. If weather conditions are difficult, additional attempts are proposed, until cloud-free coverage is obtained. For the earthquake in Italy, OneNow programming was initiated for three Pléiades acquisitions on 25th, 26th and 27th August 2016. However, it was possible to already identify the extent of the damage on the first acquisition.

Pescara del Tronto, 26/08/2016
Pescara del Tronto after, 26 August 2016
Pescara del Tronto, 13/07/2015
Pescara del Tronto before, 15 July 2013
Amatrice, 26/08/2016
Amatrice after, 26 August 2016
Amatrice, 13/07/2015
Amatrice before, 13 July 2015


Fundão dam failing in Brazil – The International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’ tasked Pléiades

On November the 5th 2015, the Fundão mining dam in Brazil failed for an unknown reason, causing one of the most serious ecological disasters the country has ever seen. The dam, which is located 500km north of Rio de Janeiro, was holding toxic sludge and mineral waste from a nearby iron mine. More than 60 million cubic metres of mud was spilt when the dam failed and this volume of unexpected material resulted in the failure of a second dam located below, further exasperating the issue.

Bento Rodrigues, a village located just two kilometres from the dam, was ravaged by the mudslide, killing 13 people and leaving more than 50 people injured. The toxic mudslide eventually joined the second largest river in Brazil, the Rio Doce, and then the ocean, killing thousands of fish and depriving half a million of people clean drinking water.

How do we respond?

When an unexpected disaster, such as this occurs, authorities need immediate visibility of the situation on the ground to enable an appropriate response to be planned and executed. The International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’ aims at providing precisely that. It is a unique, global collective of 16 space agencies, initiated in July 1999 by the European (ESA) and French (CNES) space agencies. Airbus DS Intelligence is one of its historical partners. It responds to the Charter objectives in using satellites to rapidly collect and disseminate imagery, to provide local and national authorities with the intelligence they require to plan an effective emergency response and mitigate the humanitarian impact of a disaster.

Each member space agency has committed resources to The International Charter, giving authorised users access to a unique pool of know-how and satellites resources, which can be tasked through the Charter’s dedicated online portal, 24/7, at no cost for the user.

The Pléiades constellation was selected due to its ability to acquire and deliver imagery in near real-time – therefore offering the most suitable solution for fast and useful results.

Map

 

On the 8th of November 2015, The International Charter was triggered by INPE (the Brazilian Space Agency), on behalf of CENAD (Brazilian National Risk and Disaster Management Agency). Among several optical satellites requested by the International Charter, Airbus tasked the very high-resolution Pléiades satellite constellation, using its unique OneNow option, to retrieve images of the area surrounding the Fundão mining dam, in order to identify the extent of the disaster and help the response activity. The Pléiades constellation was selected due to its ability to acquire and deliver imagery in near real-time – therefore offering the most suitable solution for fast and useful results.

Once tasked, Pléiades faced a challenge due to heavy cloud cover over the area of interest. Thanks to OneNow option, Airbus delivers three acquisitions in the shortest timeframe and in case of difficult weather conditions, the activated satellite constellation insists in collecting the area until successful images are obtained: extra top-priority acquisitions are made to provide urgently a clear view of the situation: the first Pléiades image of the dam was thus acquired on the 11th November. 6 mapping products, based on several Pléiades images acquired in two days, were processed by CENAD and helped them to develop an appropriate response to the disaster.

 

Brazil mudflow
Brazil mudflow after, 06 November 2015
Brazil mudflow
Brazil mudflow before,14 June 2015

Earthquake Damage Assessment with the Pakistan Space Agency

THE CHALLENGE

The 2015 Hindu Kush earthquake struck South Asia on the 26th October with a 7.5 magnitude, 260km North-East of Kabul, Afghanistan. The deadly earthquake caused hundreds of deaths and heavy damage in one of the world’s most impoverished and war-torn regions. The Pakistan National Space Agency (SUPARCO), was requested to provide damage assessment maps of the area to inform emergency decisions and rescue operations. The freshest imagery, delivered in high resolution and in the shortest timeframe was needed to produce the maps.To view map click here

The deadly earthquake caused hundreds of deaths and heavy damage in one of the world’s most impoverished and war-torn regions.

Earthquake damage

The Pléiades images were delivered just two and a half hours after acquisition, due to a fully automated process.

THE SOLUTION & RESULTS

Shortly after the earthquake, SUPARCO’s team placed 5 One Tasking, OneNow emergency requests through the GeoStore online portal at 8:45pm. The Pléiades images were delivered just two and a half hours after acquisition, due to a fully automated process. The near real-time performance allowed SUPARCO’s teams to immediately start their analysis, before rapidly providing 4 detailed damage assessment maps, based on the 50cm Pléiades product. These value-added maps were distributed to all concerned disaster management agencies, providing operational teams on the ground with the intelligence to effectively manage their relief and rescue activities, and to manage the early recovery phase.
SUPARCO logo

THE BENEFITS
  • The 24/7 GeoStore web service enabled the immediate request of Pléiades images, and the rapid delivery of damage assessment maps
  • Providing detailed damage maps, field team ground operations were efficiently managed
  • Operational effectiveness was achieved due to a collaborative relationship with SUPARCO

 

CUSTOMER FEEDBACK

SUPARCO teams are very grateful to deal with Airbus Defence and Space not only as a data provider but above all as a dedicated partner. Imran Iqbal, Member (SAR), SUPARCO


Wildfires in Chile – Imagery Tasking, Collection and Delivery: All on the Same Day

THE CHALLENGE

In January 2017, Chile declared the ‘state of emergency’, when the South American country experienced the worst wildfires in its history. More than 100 fires raged through central and southern Chile, spreading uncontrollably across the region, endangering lives and leading to the evacuation of thousands of local people. Strong winds made the situation even more severe – access to the latest imagery-based intelligence, detailing all potentially affected areas and the current situation on the ground, was essential.

THE SOLUTION & RESULT

To support the Chilean government’s response, Airbus immediately activated the wide swath SPOT 6/7 satellite constellation using its OneNow tasking option. In a first instance, near real-time imagery were acquired over the huge area of 233,623 km2. In a second stage the acquisition focused on some priority regions. SPOT 6/7 images enabled the identification and location of specific fires; the images were used to understand where further evacuations were necessary and to plan an effective response strategy.

The Airbus’ constellation’s daily revisit capability and high-resolution satellites were used to track damage caused over time and organise recovery operations.

Chile Fire

Following the initial acquisition, the Airbus’ constellation’s daily revisit capability and high-resolution satellites were used to track damage caused over time and organise recovery operations. OneNow tasking option takes up to three top-priority collections and rush deliveries on a daily basis and in the shortest possible timeframe. This means as soon as the satellite passes the area of interest, an image is immediately acquired and delivered. If cloud cover is still an issue after the first three attempts, Airbus’ constellation continues acquiring images of the area with the highest collection priority to provide the client with the best reactivity and freshest information. This flexibility and commitment to providing useful results helped Chile’s regional governments to plan their emergency response with the most accurate information, protecting the population and reducing the long-term environmental impact from the incident.


Understanding Landslides with Satellite Images and Field Mapping

THE CHALLENGE

In May 2016, Serbia experienced some of its heaviest rainfall in a generation. Over the course of just three days, the equivalent of three months’ worth of rain fell, causing devastating floods and landslides. 51 people lost their lives and over 30,000 people had to be evacuated, with extensive damage caused to homes and infrastructure.

One significant challenge for responders was the lack of information about the landslides and that the total number of landslides was understated, which resulted in an inaccurate ‘national landslide inventory’. These inventories typically provide valuable information about the location and severity of a landslide, which then allows for risks to be assessed and for the planning of an appropriate response. In Serbia, there was no national landslide inventory available prior to the disaster and no institutional consensus between governmental and scientific stakeholders responsible for landslides. To facilitate a more systematic response, the BEWARE project commenced, which fused landslide data acquired from field data and satellite imagery. The project’s objective was to assess the damage and to compare it with previous events to assess and prevent risks more efficiently, whilst preparing the local population.

SOLUTION & RESULT

The BEWARE team (Beyond Landslide Awareness) needed detailed satellite based intelligence to produce an accurate assessment of the situation on the ground. One Tasking’s OneNow product was selected as the right imaging product for job, offering instant tasking of a satellite with a high priority. In a first project stage, different scales were used for field mapping and satellite analysis. Over pilot areas, high-resolution Pléiades, as well as the wide-swath SPOT6 satellite were used to acquire images of the area just after the disaster. Based on Pléiades’ high-resolution imagery, an effective method for the data collection was developed, which was validated through field surveys in specific areas. The results were then extrapolated with SPOT6 images, which covers a wider area than the Pléiades images. In a next stage vulnerable areas were identified, which supported the preparation of the local population and risk management to prevent future disasters, where possible.

BENEFITS
  • Pléiades and SPOT6 images provided a quick and clear picture of the impacted areas
  • The remote satellite imagery acquisition lowered the project’s overall expenses and time, in contrast to field mapping costs
  • The multi-scale approach using high-resolution Pléiades and wide- swath SPOT images lowered the overall expenses
  • The provided data enabled satellite data pooling and sharing, which will be used to prepare municipalities when facing future landslides and to prepare civil agencies, as well as emergency services to react quicker

Detailed Coverage of Etna’s Eruption

Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano dramatically erupted in March 2017, causing ‘phreatic explosions’, which occur when molten lava touches snow. These explosive reactions caused hot stones and steam to be sent into the air at speed, injuring several people with some needing to be evacuated by rescue teams.

Timely coverage of Etna’s eruption

Just before the event, with the eruption expected within hours, Airbus’ Pléiades constellation was tasked to retrieve high-resolution satellite images of the volcano on the day of the eruption; indeed, 50cm products are perfectly suitable to understand the extent of the area affected and perform an impact analysis. Tasked just one day before the eruption, Airbus’ OneNow option, specifically designed to respond to emergency needs, was identified as the most appropriate solution; The Pléiades satellite resource was booked for a high priority acquisition over the volcano on the 18th of March.

Total visibility

Shortly after acquisition, the acquired images were immediately delivered to the customer. On the images, the lava flow and smoke could be easily identified on the collected images providing the client with most suitable information to assess the situation on the ground.