A new study conducted at the Australian National Concurrent Design Facility (ANCDF) at UNSW Canberra has demonstrated Australia’s space sector’s design, manufacture, launch and maintenance facilities can support a sovereign end-to-end Earth observation satellite and cross-calibration data program.
The Technical Feasibility Study into Australian Development of a Satellite Cross-Calibration Radiometer (SCR) report was commissioned by Geoscience Australia and undertaken by UNSW Canberra. The Australian Space Agency (ASA), CSIRO and Geoscience Australia participated in the study to explore Australia’s current sovereign satellite and national priority data capabilities. This study will inform the Australian Space Agency’s Earth Observation Technical Roadmap in 2021.
Director of UNSW Canberra Space, Professor Russell Boyce said the report found that Australia is in an ideal position to support land imaging programs and Earth observation missions, potentially reducing the reliance on foreign satellite and data sharing agreements.
“Australia still relies on international partnerships to secure much of our Earth observation data. This information is critical to everything from weather prediction, bushfire monitoring and mining,” Boyce said.
“With the significant growth of the national space sector in recent years, the good news is we are now very much up to the task of building our own capabilities.
“It seems that this project is just the right size and scale to produce a step-change across the Australian sector, further driving innovation and opportunity for the local space industry.
“The study also identified the opportunity to develop four completely new satellite subsystems that do not exist in the market today, offering substantial export potential for the industry."
Boyce said the data sourced from these missions could also help Australian businesses create richer information sets, enabling farming, resource management and the financial sector to make more informed decisions.
ANCDF manager Jan-Christian Meyer said examining the current capabilities of the Australian space industry and identifying the opportunities to develop the sector was critically important.
“Working with our partners to examine how we can deliver operational missions that meet our national priority is exactly what the ANCDF is for,” Meyer said.
“The ANCDF provides customers with a tailored combination of state-of-the-art hardware, satellite design software and a pool of experienced space experts to facilitate the development process."