Norway and Earth Observation Systems
In Europe, the applications of Earth observation data were highly focused in 1994. In this connection, a concept known as the European Earth Observation System (EEOS) has been developed, with the aim of improving the utilization of Earth observation data via joint European activity. The main contributors to the concept are the EU, ESA and its members, via their national programmes. The contribution of the EU will be a user-oriented network for the exchange of Earth observation information. ESA will contribute the ground infrastructure for acquisition and processing of data from its own satellites and from other selected satellites. A division of responsibility concerning the development of new applications has still to be drawn up. Both the EU and ESA are keen to increase their activities in this area considerably. More and more of the national programmes are also focusing more sharply on operational and commercial applications.
This rise in attention has led to greater interest in bilateral collaboration with Norway, which has long been regarded as one of the most goal-oriented countries in Europe as regards the development of operational near real-time services. The principal features of the new national programme for development of Earth observation services has been given a positive international reception. In descending order of priority, the following SAR-based services are to be established, given that this can be done in a cost-effective manner:
- Ship detection for the Norwegian Navy and for the Coastguard
- Oil detection for the State Pollution Control Authority (SFT) and oil companies
- Ice mapping and monitoring for users who operate in the vicinity of the ice edge
- Wave energy and direction spectra for the Norwegian Meteorological Institute (DNMI) in order to improve the special wave service.
In summer 1994, Troms Satellite Station took over the main responsibility for the oil-monitoring service. As a result, TSS analysed more than 1,700 SAR images (equivalent to 1.7 million square kilometres) during the latter half of the year and sent reports to SFT of all possible cases of oil-slicks. SFT has been an active partner and a source of finance for the establishment of satellite data as a component of the national oil-monitoring service. Several research institutes have helped to automate the routines involved, and to utilize data from RADARSAT, a Canadian operational radar satellite which was launched in November 1995. In collaboration with SFT, TSS has started international marketing of its SAR-based oil-monitoring services.
Ice mapping and monitoring have been performed regularly in high-priority areas around Svalbard and along the ice edge. This service has been provided by Terra Orbit. The service has received positive feedback, but severe limitations in coverage and flexibility have made it difficult to obtain financing. RADARSAT is expected to offer considerable improvements in quality.
DNMI cooperates with NORUT-IT and Troms Satellite Station in analysing and documenting how wave energy and wave direction information can be extracted from SAR data. These parameters are of importance for maritime activities, and the results of this work are expected to improve the quality of wave forecasts. A product and service concept for ship routing has been demonstrated by DNMI and Maintek. The Norwegian shipping industry has reacted positively to the concept. Industrial partners and a market strategy have been identified. TSS has won a position as an important supplier of marine near real-time services. The station has demonstrated a number of services in close collaboration with users, R & D institutes and industrial companies.
In order to strengthen the market development of Troms Satellite Station close collaboration has been initiated with the Swedish Space Corporation. In 1995, the Swedish Space Corporation became a co-owner of Troms Satellite Station a.s (TSS) together with the Norwegian Space Centre. The Norwegian Space Centre has set up the Svalsat project, which will study the prospects for establishing a ground station for polar orbiting satellites on Svalbard. The project group has consisted of representatives of TSS, DNMI, Telenor, Svalbard n'ringsutvikling and Spacetec.
On the industrial side, Spacetec and Informasjonkontroll are in the process of setting up a new production chain for RADARSAT at TSS. The two companies have been awarded a contract in Singapore for equipment for a satellite ground station, including a SAR processor. Spacetec has also been awarded contracts in China and South Africa. In the ENVISAT-1 programme, Norsk Forsvarsteknologi and Norsk Elektro Optikk are developing important components for the spectrometer, while AME Space will supply electronics for the radar altimeter. The Meteosat Second Generation Programme has inaugurated phase B activities. AME Space, Raufoss and Det norske Veritas are strong candidates as suppliers of processors, valves and quality assurance systems.
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