Copernicus: Sentinel-1 — The SAR Imaging Constellation for Land and Ocean Services
Sentinel-1 is the European Radar Observatory, representing the first new space component of the GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) satellite family, designed and developed by ESA and funded by the EC (European Commission). The Copernicus missions (Sentinel-1, -2, and -3) represent the EU contribution to GEOSS (Global Earth Observation System of Systems). Sentinel-1 is composed of a constellation of two satellites, Sentinel-1A and Sentinel-1B, sharing the same orbital plane with a 180° orbital phasing difference. The mission provides an independent operational capability for continuous radar mapping of the Earth with enhanced revisit frequency, coverage, timeliness and reliability for operational services and applications requiring long time series.
Table 1: Copernicus is the new name of the former GMES program 1)
The overall objective of the Sentinel-1 mission is to provide continuity of C-band SAR operational applications and services in Europe. Special emphasis is placed on services identified in ESA's GSE (GMES Service Element) program. Additional inputs come from on-going GMES projects funded by ESA, the EU, and ESA/EU member states. The Sentinel-1 mission is expected to enable the development of new applications and meet the evolving needs of GMES, such as in the area of climate change and associated monitoring. 2) 3) 4)
The Sentinel-1 mission represents a completely new approach to SAR mission design by ESA in direct response to the operational needs for SAR data expressed under the EU-ESA GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) program. The mission ensures continuity of C-band SAR data to applications and builds on ESA's heritage and experience with the ERS and Envisat SAR instruments, notably in maintaining key instrument characteristics such as stability and accurate well-calibrated data products.
The key mission parameters are revisit time, coverage, timeliness combined with frequency band, polarization, resolution and other image quality parameters. Short revisit time demands for an appropriate orbit selection and large swath widths.
The baseline mission concept under development is a two-satellite constellation, with four nominal operational modes on each spacecraft designed for maximum compliance with user requirements. 5) 6) 7) 8) 9) 10)
• Orbit: Sun-synchronous near-polar orbit, repeat cycle of 12 days, cycle length of 175 days
• Operational modes:
- Stripmap mode (SM): 80 km swath, 5 m x 5 m resolution, single-look
- Interferometric Wide Swath mode (IWS): 240 km swath, 5 m x 20 m resolution, single-look
- Extra Wide Swath mode (EWS): 400 km swath, single-look
- Interferometric Wide Swath mode (IWS): 240 km swath, 25 m x 80 m resolution, 3-looks
- Wave mode (WM): 20 km x 20 km, 20 m x 5 m resolution, single-look
• Polarization: Dual polarization for all modes VV+VH or HH+HV
- Consistent, reliable and conflict free mission operations
- Near real-time delivery of data within 3 hours (worst case) with 1 hour as goal
- Data delivery from archive within 24 hours
• Sensitivity: NESZ (Noise Equivalent Sigma Zero), σo = -25 dB
- Stability = 0.5 dB
- Accuracy = 1.0 dB
• Ambiguity ratio: DTAR (Distributed Target Ambiguity Ratio) = -25 dB
In April 2007, ESA selected TAS-I (Thales Alenia Space Italia) as prime contractor for the Sentinel-1 spacecraft (overall satellite design & integration at system and subsystem level, including the design of the SAR antenna's transmit/receive modules). ESA awarded the contract to TAS-I on June 18, 2007 at the Paris International Air Show. EADS Astrium GmbH of Friedrichshafen, was in turn awarded a contract by TAS-I to build the radar imaging payload for Sentinel-1, including the central radar electronics subsystem developed by Astrium UK. The objective of Sentinel-1 is to assure C-band SAR data continuity for the user community currently provided by Envisat and ERS-2. 11)
Three priorities (fast-track services) for the mission have been identified by user consultation working groups of the European Union: Marine Core Services, Land Monitoring and Emergency Services. These cover applications such as: 12)
• Monitoring sea ice zones and the arctic environment
• Surveillance of marine environment
• Monitoring land surface motion risks
• Mapping of land surfaces: forest, water and soil, agriculture
• Mapping in support of humanitarian aid in crisis situations.
Unlike its more experimental predecessors ERS-1, ERS-2 and Envisat that supply data on a best effort basis, operational satellites like Sentinel-1 are required to satisfy user requirements and to supply information in a reliable fashion with the data provider accepting legal responsibility for the delivery of information.
In March 2010, ESA and TAS-I signed a contract to build the second Sentinel-1 (Sentinel-1B) and Sentinel-3 (Sentinel-3B) satellites, marking another significant step in the Copernicus program. 13)
As part of the Copernicus space component, the Sentinel-1 (S1) mission is implemented through a constellation of two satellites (A and B units) each carrying an imaging C-band SAR instrument (5.405 GHz) providing data continuity of ERS and Envisat SAR types of mission. Each Sentinel-1 satellite is designed for an operations lifetime of 7 years with consumables for 12 years. The S-1 satellites will fly in a near polar, sun-synchronized (dawn-dusk) orbit at 693 km altitude. 14)
The Sentinel-1 mission, including both S-1A and S-1B satellites, is specifically designed to acquire systematically and provide routinely data and information products to Copernicus Ocean, Land and Emergency as well as to national user services. These services focus on operational applications such as the observation of the marine environment, including oil spill detection and Arctic/Antarctic sea-ice monitoring, the surveillance of maritime transport zones (e.g. European and North Atlantic zones), as well as the mapping of land surfaces including vegetation cover (e.g. forest), and mapping in support of crisis situations such as natural disasters (e.g. flooding and earthquakes) and humanitarian aid.
In addition, the 12-day repeat orbit cycle of each Sentinel-1 satellite along with small orbital baselines will enable SAR interferometry (InSAR) coherent change detection applications such as the monitoring of surface deformations (e.g. subsidence due to permafrost melt) and cryosphere dynamics (e.g. glacier flow).
The spacecraft is based on the PRIMA (Piattaforma Italiana Multi Applicativa) bus of TAS-I, of COSMO-SkyMed and RADARSAT-2 heritage, with a mission-specific payload module. Attitude stabilization: 3-axis, attitude accuracy = 0.01º (each axis), orbital knowledge = 10 m (each axis, 3σ using GPS).
The spacecraft structure provides the accommodation for all platform and payload units. A box type structure has been adopted using external aluminum sandwich material, with a central structure in CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic). A modular approach has been taken whereby the payload is mounted to a dedicated part of the structure, allowing separate integration & test of the payload before integration to the main part of the structure carrying the platform units. This has many advantages for the overall AIT (Assembly, Integration and Test) process. 15) 16) 17) 18) 19) 20)
The PRIMA platform comprises three main modules, which are structurally and functionally decoupled to allow for a parallel module integration and testing up to the satellite final integration. The modules are: 21)
1) SVM (Service Module), carrying all the bus units apart from the propulsion ones
2) PPM (Propulsion Module), carrying all the propulsion items connected by tubing and connectors
3) PLM (Payload Module), carrying all the payload equipment including the SAR Instrument antenna.
Figure 2: 3D exploded view of the Sentinel-1 platform (image credit: TAS-I)
TCS (Thermal Control Subsystem): The TCS provides control of the thermal characteristics and environment of the Satellite units throughout all phases of the mission. In general the TCS is passive, with the control provided by means of standard techniques such as heat pipes, radiators and MLI (Multi-Layered Insulation). Survival heaters are provided to prevent units becoming too cold during non-operative phases.
EPS (Electric Power Subsystem): The EPS uses two solar array wings for power generation. Each wing consists of 5 sandwich panels using GaAs triple junction solar cells. The average onboard power is 4.8 kW (EOL), the Li-ion battery has a capacity of 324 Ah. The PCDU (Power Control and Distribution Unit) is designed to provide adequate grounding, bonding & protection for the overall electrical system (e.g. by use of fuses) and must also be integrated into the satellite FDIR concept to ensure that adequate power resources and management are available in the event of on-board failures. Li-Ion battery technology has been selected for the batteries in view of the large benefits offered in terms of mass and energy efficiency.
The spacecraft dimensions in stowed configuration are: 3.4m x 1.3 m x 1.3 m. The Sentinel-1 spacecraft has a launch mass of ~2,200 kg, the design life is 7.25 years (consumables for up to 12 years). 22) 23)
Since the B2 Phase of Sentinel-1, a commonality approach with Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-3 was introduced and deeply investigated, to optimize and minimize as much as possible new developments, HW procurement and operations costs. Besides the differences among payload instruments and their relative required performances, each of these three satellites have its own orbital parameters, as well its own specific requirements. 24) 25)
Table 2: List of some Sentinel-1, -2, -3 characteristics and key requirements impacting on end-to-end performance 26)
The Sentinel-1 spacecraft design is characterized by a single C-band SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) instrument with selectable dual polarization, a deployable solar array, large on-board science data storage, a very high X-band downlink rate, and stringent requirements on attitude accuracy and data-take timing. In addition, the spacecraft will embark the LCT (Laser Communication Terminal) unit allowing downlink of recorded data via the EDRS (European Data Relay Satellite). 27) 28)
Table 3: Main parameters of the Sentinel-1 spacecraft
AVS (Avionics Subsystem): The AVS performs both Data Handling & Attitude/Orbit Control functions. This is realized through the concept of an integrated control system that performs the control of the platform and payload. The AVS performs all data management & storage functions for the satellite, including TM/TC reception and generation, subsystem & unit monitoring, autonomous switching actions and synchronization. The AVS includes the AOCS processing and the interfaces to the AOCS sensors Star trackers, fine sun sensors, and fine gyroscope and actuators, 4 reaction wheels, 3 torque rods, 14 thrusters, 2 solar array drive mechanism. 29)
The AOCS comprises all means to perform transfer- and on-orbit control maneuvers and to control all necessary satellite attitude and antenna pointing states during all mission phases, starting at separation from the launcher until de-orbiting of the satellite at end of life. This includes the attitude steering of the LEO satellite to provide both yaw and roll steering capability. At present, a dedicated precise orbit predictor is implemented within the AOCS, in addition to making use of the data uploaded to the payload by the GPS constellation. The AOCS (Attitude and Orbit Control Subsystem) is able to perform some functions autonomously and it is supported by a very reliable FDIR scheme (Ref. 15). Telecommand data will be received from the TT&C subsystem and will be decoded and deformatted in the AVS.
AOCS consists of the following sensors and actuators: fine sun sensors, magnetometers, gyroscopes, star trackers, GPS receivers, magnetic torquers, a reaction wheels assembly and a monopropellant (hydrazine) propulsion system. The propulsion system has 3 pairs of 1 N orbit control thrusters and 4 pairs of reaction control thrusters for attitude correction. Every pair is made up of a prime and a redundant component. The attitude control thrusters are fired when the spacecraft enters RDM (Rate Damping Mode) after separation, damping any residual rotation left by the launcher upper stage and achieving a spacecraft pitch rotation of -8 times the orbital period. In the subsequent AOCS mode, called SHM (Safe Hold Mode), magnetotorquers and reaction wheels maintain the attitude and reduce the pitch rotation rate to twice the orbital period.
The periodic behavior of the Earth’s magnetic field in a polar orbit and the polarization of the angular momentum with the loading of the reaction wheels allow the magnetotorquers to maintain this pitch rate while aligning the spacecraft –Y axis with the orbit normal, which in a dusk-dawn orbit coincides with the direction to the Sun (Figure 3). When the appendages deployment commences, the effect of the gravity gradient torque dominates over the magnetic torque, resulting in the alignment of the S/C X axis (appendages axis) with the nadir direction, maintaining thus a pitch rate equal to the orbital period. Upon ground telecommand, a transition into the NPM (Normal Pointing Mode) occurs, where the spacecraft performs a fine attitude control based on the use of reaction wheels in close loop with star trackers, gyroscopes and GPS, and magnetotorquers for wheel unloading (Ref. 20).
Figure 3: Sentinel-1A stowed representation (in RDM and SHM). +X S/C axis points towards the flight direction. S/C Y axis is aligned with the Sun direction. Solar Array –Y illuminated when stowed (image credit: ESA, Ref. 20)
Figure 4: Architecture of the avionics subsystem (image credit: TAS-I)
Table 4: Sentinel-1 attitude steering modes (Ref. 88)
Figure 5: Spacecraft power generation and distribution (image credit: TAS-I)
PDHT (Payload Data Handling & Transmission) subsystem (Ref. 24):
The commonality process is driving the spacecraft design with the objective to satisfy the needs of three different missions within the same product. This involves several Sentinels subsystems: in particular, TAS-I was selected to coordinate the common design of two assemblies: 30)
• TXA (Telemetry X-band transmission Assembly) 31)
• XBAA (X-Band Antenna Assembly)
The objective of the PDHT subsystem is to provide the services of data acquisition, storage and transmission to the ground in X-band. After having acquired observation data from the DSHA (Data Storage and Handling Assembly), the TXA executes encoding, modulation, up-conversion, amplification and filtering; the X-band signal provided at the TXA output is then transmitted by an isoflux, wide coverage antenna, included in the XBAA.
To summarize, the performance requirements on TXA specification took into account the different needs of the Sentinels, allowing a fully recurrent units approach: beside a specific TXA layout due to accommodation needs, the modulator, TWTA, and RF filter are exactly the same for the three Sentinels.
After the selection of the TXA & XBAA suppliers (TAS-España and TAS-I IUEL respectively), an agreement was reached between ESA and the Sentinel prime contractors on the way to handle the common design and procurement for TXA and XBAA.
Besides strong efforts to manage different needs coming from different missions, the commonality activities performed in the frame of Copernicus Sentinels enable an effective optimization of costs and development time for those subsystems selected for a common design.
To provide flexibility in the downlink operation, the PDHT is designed with two X-band independent links. The PDHT provides an overall input/output throughput of about 1950 Mbit/s, with a payload input data rate of 2 x 640 Mbit/s (multi-polarization acquisition) or 1 x 1280 Mbit/s (single-polarization acquisition) and a transmitted symbol rate of 2 x 112 Msample/s. The data storage capacity is > 1410 Gbit at EOL.
The provided antenna isoflux coverage zone is about ±64º with respect to nadir to allow link establishment with the ground starting from the ground antenna elevation angle of 5º above the horizon.
Legend of Figure 6:
• DSHA (Data Storage & Handling Assembly)
• TXA (Telemetry X-band transmission Assembly)
• XBAA (X-band Antenna Assembly)
Table 5: Main performance characteristics of the PDHT
The TXA architecture provides two redundant X-band channels with the same output power (16 dBW) and useful data rate (260 Mbit/s). Cold redundancy is implemented at channel level. The main elements of the assembly are:
- X-band modulators, developed by TAS-F, are fully compliant with ECSS and modulation standard
- TWTA (Traveling Wave Tube Amplifiers), provided by TAS-B (ETCA), deliver up to 60 W RF power
- OMUX (Optical Multiplexer), developed by TAS-F, filters and combines both channels and provides out of band rejection.
To achieve good spectral confinement and especially to ensure that the emission levels in the adjacent deep space band (8400 to 8450 MHz) are respected, both baseband filtering with a roll-off of 0.35 (0.35-SRRC) and filtering techniques have been applied. In addition, 6-pole channel band pass filters have been implemented in the OMUX. The 6-pole solution provides two main advantages in front of other less selective solutions, such as 4-pole:
- It filters our more efficiently the regrowth of baseband filtered 8PSK carrier due to the gain nonlinearity of the TWTA, thus allowing for a better overall DC efficiency
- It is compatible with data rates up to 300 Mbit/s per channel by adjusting the frequency plan (increase of frequency spacing between channels).
Figure 7: Architecture of the TXA (image credit: TAS)
Table 6: Summary of the key performances of the Sentinel TXA
PRP (Propulsion Subsystem): The PRP is based on 14 RCTs (Reaction Control Thrusters) located in 4 different sides of the spacecraft, provides the means to make orbit corrections to maintain the requested tight orbit control throughout the mission. Initially, corrections are required to reach the final orbit position after separation from the launcher. During the mission, some infrequent corrections to the orbit are necessary to maintain the requirements upon the relative and absolute positioning of individual satellite. The thrusters located on the –Z side of the satellite are specifically dedicated to attitude control during the safe mode.
Figure 8: Sentinel-1 satellite block diagram (TAS-I, ESA, Ref. 15)
Figure 9: Stowed satellite views (image credit: TAS-I)
RF communications: Onboard source data storage volume of 900 Gbit (EOL). TT&C communications in S-band at 4 kbit/s in uplink and 16, 128, or 512 kbit/s in downlink (programmable). Payload downlink in X-band at a data rate of 2 x 260 Mbit/s.
The Copernicus Sentinel spacecraft are the first ESA Earth Observation spacecraft to implement communications security on the command link. It has been decided to secure the spacecraft from unauthorised command access by adding a security trailer to the command segments which are sent to the spacecraft. The trailer is composed of a Logical Authentication Counter and a Message Authentication Code. The latter is obtained by performing cryptographic encryption of the hash value of the command segment and the Logical Authentication Counter. Only parties in possession of the right key can perform this operation in a way that the command segment is accepted by the spacecraft. The concept applies to all Copernicus Sentinel spacecraft. 32)
Science data compression: Currently, the most promising solution seems to be the FDBAQ (Flexible Dynamic Block Adaptive Quantization) approach as proposed by ESA; 3 output bits would be sufficient for most of “typical” acquisitions over various targets, while few high reflectivity scenes would need 4 bits, making the expected average output bit rate little higher then 3 bits, thus lower then the estimated 3.7 bits for the ECBAQ (Entropy-Constrained Block Adaptive Quantization) compression. 33) 34) 35) 36)
Data delivery: Sentinel-1 will provide a high level of service reliability with near-realtime delivery of data within 1 hour after reception by the ground station, and with data delivery from archive within 24 hours.
OCP (Optical Communication Payload): In parallel to the RF communications, an optical LEO-GEO communications link using the LCT (Laser Communication Terminal) of Tesat-Spacecom (Backnang, Germany) will be provided on the Sentinel spacecraft. The LCT is based on a heritage design (TerraSAR-X) with a transmit power of 2.2 W and a telescope of 135 mm aperture to meet the requirement of the larger link distance. The GEO LCT will be accommodated on AlphaSat of ESA/industry (launch 2012) and later on the EDRS (European Data Relay Satellite) system of ESA. The GEO relay consists of an optical 2.8 Gbit/s (1.8 Gbit/s user data) communication link from the LEO to the GEO satellite and of a 600 Mbit/s Ka-band communication link from the GEO satellite to the ground. 37)
Since the Ka-band downlink is the bottleneck for the whole GEO relay system, an optical ground station for a 5.625 Gbit/s LEO-to-ground and a 2.8 Gbit/s GEO-to-ground communication link is under development.
Table 7: Technical data of the LCT generations 38)
Ground segment: Spacecraft operations is provided by ESOC, Darmstadt, while the payload data processing and archiving functions (including the planning for SAR data acquisitions) are provided by ESRIN, Frascati. Options are being provided to permit some functions to be outscored to other operating entities.
Figure 10: Isometric views of the deployed satellite (image credit: TAS-I)
Figure 11: SAR antenna deployment test supported by zero gravity deployment device (solar array in stowed position), image credit: TAS-I, (Ref. 21)
Figure 12 shows the fully integrated Sentinel-1A spacecraft with the SAR antenna and the solar array wings in stowed position. The figure shows the Sentinel-1 spacecraft already mounted on the shaker and ready for sine vibration testing after it has successfully passed the Mass Properties measurements (namely center of mass and inertia moments). Successful completion of vibration and acoustic testing has been followed by the deployment tests of both the SAR antenna and the solar array. Each solar array is tied down on four hold down points by dedicated Kevlar cables. Wing deployment is purely passive, driven by springs, and actuated upon activation of specific thermal knives devices. The time to complete deployment of one wing lasts about 3.5 minutes since the last cable cut. In the end position, the solar array panels are mechanically latched.
Figure 12: Photo of the Sentinel-1A spacecraft during functional tests in Cannes, France (image credit: TAS) 39)
• Prior to shipment to the launch site in late February 2014, the Sentinel-1 spacecraft has spent the last couple of months at Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France, being put through a last set of stringent tests. This included suspending the satellite from a structure to simulate weightlessness and carefully unfolding the two 10 m-long solar wings and the 12 m-long radar antenna. 40)
• The first satellite dedicated to Europe’s Copernicus environmental monitoring program arrived at Cayenne in French Guiana on 24 February 2014. Sentinel-1A is scheduled to be launched from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou on 3 April. By delivering timely information for numerous operational services, from monitoring ice in polar oceans to tracking land subsidence, Sentinel-1 is set to play a vital role in the largest civil Earth observation programme ever conceived. 41)
Figure 13: The Sentinel-1A radar satellite has arrived at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana to be prepared over the coming weeks for launch in April (image credit: ESA,M. Shafiq) 42)
Launch of S-1A: The Sentinel-1A spacecraft was launched on April 3, 2014 (21:02 UTC) on a Soyuz-STB Fregat vehicle from Kourou, French Guiana (the launch is designated as VS07 by the launch provider Arianespace). After a 617 second burn, the Fregat upper stage delivered Sentinel-1A into a Sun-synchronous orbit at 693 km altitude. The satellite separated from the upper stage 23 min 24 sec after liftoff. 43)
Launch of S-1B: The Sentinel-1B spacecraft, a twin sister of Sentinel-1A, was launched on April 25, 2016 (21:02:13 GMT) into the same orbital plane of Sentinel-1A (phased by 180º). The launcher was a Soyuz-STA/Fregat vehicle (VS 14) of Arianespace and the launch site was Kourou. 44) 45)
The contract between ESA and Arianespace to launch the Sentinel-1B satellite was signed on July 17, 2014 by ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programs, Volker Liebig, and CEO of Arianespace, Stéphane Israël, at ESA headquarters in Paris, France. As part of the Copernicus program, Sentinel-1B will round out the initial capacity offered by Sentinel-1A to offer a comprehensive response to the need for environmental and security monitoring via spaceborne radar systems. 46) 47) 48)
On March 22, 2016, the Sentinel-1B satellite has arrived in French Guiana to be prepared for liftoff on 22 April. 49)
Secondary payloads of Sentinel-1B: 50)
• MicroSCOPE, a minisatellite (303 kg) of CNES (French Space Agency) which will test the universality of free fall (equivalence principle for inertial and gravitational mass as stated by Albert Einstein).
• AAUSAT4, a 1U CubeSat of the University of Aalborg, Denmark to demonstrate an AIS (Automatic Identification System), identifying and locating ships sailing offshore in coastal regions.
• e-st@r-II (Educational SaTellite @ politecnico di toRino-II), a 1U CubeSat from the Polytechnic of Turin, Italy.
• OUFTI-1 (Orbital Utility for Telecommunication Innovation), a 1U CubeSat of the University of Liège, Belgium, a demonstrator for the D-STAR communications protocol.
Tyvak International installed the three CubeSats in the orbital deployer. The three CubeSats are part of ESA's FYS (Fly Your Satellite) student program.
Orbit: Sun-synchronous near-circular dawn-dusk orbit, altitude = 693 km, inclination = 98.18º, orbital period = 98.6 minutes, ground track repeat cycle = 12 days (175 orbits/cycle). An exact repeat cycle is needed for InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) support. LTAN (Local Time on Ascending Node) = 18:00 hours.
Orbital tube: A stringent orbit control is required to the Sentinel-1 system. Satellites’ position along the orbit needs to be very accurate, in terms of both accuracy and knowledge, together with pointing and timing/synchronization between interferometric pairs. Orbit positioning control for Sentinel-1 is defined by way of an orbital Earth fixed “tube” 50 m (rms) wide in radius around a nominal operational path (Figure 14). The satellite is kept inside such a tube for most of its operational lifetime Ref. 15). 51)
One of the challenges of the Sentinel-1 orbit control strategy is the translation of a statistical tube definition in a deterministic control strategy practically functional to the ESOC (European Space Operations Center) operations.
The second obvious challenge is the very stringent tube diameter which forces the application of frequent and intense maneuvers nevertheless still compatible with S/C request for consumables of up to a 12 years lifetime.
A satellite control strategy has been specifically developed and consists in applying a strict cross-track dead-band control in the most Northern Point and in the ascending node crossing. Controlling the orbit at these 2 latitudes, the satellite is shown to remain in the tube, within the rms (root mean square) criteria, for all other latitudes.
Figure 15: Orbital tube section (image credit: ESA, TAS, Ref. 15)
Orbit knowledge accuracy (< 3 m rms in each axis) in realtime for autonomous operations is not considered as demanding as the on-ground postprocessing requirements (< 5 cm 3D rms) for the detection of (slow) land movements and deformations through the differential interferometry technique. The latter is almost as demanding as for Sentinel-3 and requires dual-frequency receivers. 53)
As both satellites, Sentinel-1A and Sentinel-1B, will fly in the in the same orbital plane with 180º phased in orbit, and each having a 12-day repeat orbit cycle, it will facilitate the formation of SAR interferometry (InSAR) image pairs (i.e., interferograms) having time intervals of 6 days. This, along with the fact that the orbital deviation of each Sentinel-1 satellite will be maintained within a tube of ±50 m radius (rms) will enable the generation of geographically comprehensive maps of surface change such as for measuring ice velocity in the Polar regions, as well as monitoring geohazard related surface deformation caused by tectonic processes, volcanic activities, landslides, and subsidence (Ref. 110).
Figure 16: The main Sentinel-1 mode will allow complete coverage of Earth in six days when operational with the two Sentinel-1 satellites are in orbit simultaneously (image credit: ESA/ATG medialab) 54)
Note: As of July 2019, the previously single large Sentinel-1 file has been split into two files, to make the file handling manageable for all parties concerned, in particular for the user community.
• This article covers the Sentinel-1 mission and its imagery in the period 2019
• December 5, 2019: The Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission takes us over part of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso deep in the Amazon interior. 55)
- Ironically, Mato Grosso means ‘great woods’, but, as these colored rectangular shapes portray, much of the tropical forest has been cut down and given over to farming. While this image only shows a small area, Mato Grosso is one of Brazil’s top cattle-producing and crop-producing states, with the main crops including corn, soya and wheat.
- However, although the state has one of the highest historical rates of deforestation in Amazonian Brazil, deforestation is slowing and Mato Grosso is now said to be a global leader in climate-change solutions.
- As an advanced radar mission, Copernicus Sentinel-1 can image the surface of Earth through cloud and rain and regardless of whether it is day or night. This makes it ideal for monitoring areas that tend to be covered by cloud such as rainforests.
Figure 17: This image combines three separate radar images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission taken about two years apart to show change in crops and land cover over time. Unlike images from satellites carrying optical or ‘camera-like’ instruments, images acquired with imaging radar are interpreted by studying the intensity of the backscatter radar signal, which is related to the roughness of the ground. - Here, the first image, from 2 May 2015, is picked out in blue; the second, from 16 March 2017, picks out changes in green; and the third from 18 March 2019 in red; areas in grey depict little or no change between 2015 and 2019. This image is also featured on the Earth from Space video program (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2015-19), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
• November 26, 2019: Torrential downpours have battered many parts of Italy this month, with extreme flooding wreaking havoc across northern Italy. The province of Alessandria is said to be one of the worst-affected areas according to Italian media, with around 200 people evacuated and 600 said to be left stranded. 56)
- Copernicus Sentinel-1’s radar ability to ‘see’ through clouds and rain, and in darkness, makes it particularly useful for monitoring floods. It can even easily differentiate water bodies, highlighting the difference between the Po River in black, and the extent of the flooding in red.
- Around 500 people were evacuated further north in the Aosta Valley, where many roads were closed in fear of potential avalanches. Part of a viaduct serving the A6 motorway near Savona, in the northern region of Liguria, was washed away by a mudslide – leaving a 30 m gap in the road.
- Images acquired before and after flooding offer immediate information on the extent of inundation and support assessments of property and environmental damage.
- Earlier this month, the Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service was activated to help respond to the floods in northeast Italy, where Venice saw record-breaking water levels and the worst flooding in 50 years.
Figure 18: This multi-temporal image uses two separate images captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission on 13 November and 25 November. The flooded areas can be seen depicted in red, the Po River in black, and urban areas in white (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
• November 17, 2019: This week, southeast France was hit by a magnitude 5 earthquake with tremors felt between Lyon and Montélimar. The Copernicus Sentinel-1 radar mission has been used to map the way the ground shifted as a result of the quake. 57)
- Earthquakes are unusual in this part of France, but on 11 November at noon (local time) part of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region was rocked by a quake leading to people having to be evacuated and buildings damaged.
- Scientists are turning to satellite-based radar observations to help understand the nature of the seismic fault and map its location.
- By combining imagery acquired before and after a quake, changes on the ground that occurred between the two acquisition dates lead to rainbow-colored interference patterns in the combined image, known as an ‘interferogram’, which allows scientists to quantify ground movement.
- An acquisition by Copernicus Sentinel-1 was made on 12 November, one day after the event, and was ready to process on ESA’s Geohazards Exploitation Platform (GEP), which is a cloud-based processing environment with on-demand terrain motion mapping services.
- Several users have computed interferograms over the concerned region.
- While several faults are present in the region and marked in geological maps, none were known to be seismically active. The interferogram here shows a series of fringes in the area west of the city of Le Teil and has allowed scientists to identify the fault at the origin of the earthquake. The satellite observation also measured a ground displacement that corresponds to an uplift of up to 8 cm in the southern part of the fault.
- The intensity of the ground motion felt by the inhabitants and measured from space is unusual for this magnitude of event unless the earthquake epicenter is shallow and, indeed, seismic data put the epicenter at between 1 km and 3.5 km below the surface. Observations in the field on 13 November suggest that the rupture propagated up to the surface.
- Floriane Provost, Research Fellow at ESA, said, “The rapid release to the public of up-to-date Copernicus Sentinel-1 based products visualized in a friendly fashion on the GEP geobrowser was followed by a peak of connections. It helped the scientific community better map the location of the fault and to confirm the mechanism of the earthquake.
- “This example shows how the GEP environment contributes to the rapid processing and exchange of information within the geohazards community.”
- Michael Foumelis, researcher at the French Geological Survey BRGM, added, “Field investigations by BRGM experts are on-going, while interferometric synthetic aperture radar results are actually helping them to correlate the distribution of damage with the location of the activated fault and measured ground displacements.”
Figure 19: On 11 November 2019, the southeast of France was hit by a magnitude 5 earthquake with tremors felt between Lyon and Montélimar. The interferogram here shows a series of fringes in the area west of the city of Le Teil and has allowed scientists to identify the fault at the origin of the earthquake. The fringes are characteristic of ground motion. This product is derived from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission using the acquisitions of 6 and 12 November 2019. The interferogram was generated on GEP with the Diapsaon processing chain from CNES/TRE Altamira (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA)
• November 1, 2019: The Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission takes us over cracks in the Brunt ice shelf, which lies in the Weddell Sea sector of Antarctica. 58)
Figure 20: Using radar images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, the animation shows the evolution of two ice fractures from September 2016 until mid-October 2019. The large chasm running northwards is called Chasm 1, while the split extending eastwards is referred to as the Halloween Crack. This image is also featured on the Earth from Space video program (ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016-19), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
- First spotted on 31 October 2016, the Halloween crack runs from an area known as McDonald Ice Rumples – which is where the underside of the floating ice sheet is grounded on the shallow seabed. This pinning point slows the flow of ice and crumples the ice surface into waves.
- Chasm 1 on the other hand has been in place for over 25 years. It was previously stable for many years, but in 2012, it was noticed that the dormant crack started extending northwards.
- Now, Chasm 1 and Halloween crack are only separated by a few kilometers. When they meet, an iceberg about the size of Greater London will break off. The two lengthening fractures have been set to intersect for years – it’s only a matter of time for the two to meet.
- The Brunt shelf has been monitored by glaciologists for decades and is constantly changing. Early maps from the 1970s indicate that the ice shelf used to be a mass of small icebergs welded together by sea ice.
- Calving is a natural process of the life cycle of ice shelves. Although the iceberg is of a considerable size, it will not be the largest of icebergs to calve in Antarctica. In 2017, a chunk of Larsen C broke off spawning one of the largest icebergs on record and changing the outline of the Antarctic Peninsula.
- Ice shelf movement is very unpredictable. Routine monitoring from satellites offer unprecedented views of events happening in remote regions, and show how ice shelves are responding to changes in ice dynamics, air and ocean temperatures.
- As an advanced radar mission, Copernicus Sentinel-1 can image the surface of Earth through cloud and rain and regardless of whether it is day or night. This makes it an ideal mission for monitoring the polar regions, which are in darkness during the winter months and for monitoring tropical forests, which are typically shrouded by cloud.
• October 29, 2019: Hagibis was the biggest typhoon to hit Japan in decades. With extreme events like this, likely to increase in number and in severity as a consequence of climate change, satellites are playing an increasingly important role in understanding and tracking huge storms. 59)
- Different satellites carry different instruments that can provide a wealth of complementary information to understand and to respond to a single event.
- After making landfall on 12 October 2019 on Shizuoka Prefecture’s Izu Peninsula, Hagibis brought record-breaking rainfall, triggered mudslides and caused severe flooding.
- While the storm was still over the ocean, both Copernicus Sentinel-1 and ESA’s SMOS missions were used to track what was going on within and beneath the storm at the sea surface, and Copernicus Sentinel-3 imaged from above.
- The Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission carries an advanced radar instrument to provide an all-weather, day-and-night supply of imagery of Earth’s surface. Its ability to ‘see’ through cloud and rain and in pitch darkness makes it particularly useful to measure the ocean surface wind speed of tropical cyclones.
- As the radar signal penetrates the clouds, the pattern created by the cyclone on the sea surface – known as the ‘roughness’ – can be characterized. This allows the ocean surface wind speed to be calculated. This is possible thanks to the Sentinel-1 image dual polarization combination.
- The high resolution of Sentinel-1 provides an unprecedented detailed insight of the cyclone inner core structure, in particular the eye’s diameter, the radius of maximum winds and the maximum wind speed.
Figure 21: This animation shows the Copernicus Sentinel-1 SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) images in cross-polarization acquired over Typhoon Hagibis as it heads to Japan’s main island of Honshu. These observations were possible thanks to the specific tasking performed on the Sentinel-1 radar satellites (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by IFREMER)
- In the case of Typhoon Hagibis, on 8 October the Sentinel-1 satellite measured the eye’s diameter at the sea surface as 20 km, the radius of maximum wind speed was 25 km and the maximum wind speed was greater than 60 m/s.
- These data are valuable for the Satellite Hurricane Observation Campaign (SHOC), which collect satellite observations to provide a synoptic view of hurricane development and evolution. SHOC involves CLS (Collecte Localisation Satellites), IFREMER (French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea) and Météo-France.
- Alexis Mouche from IFREMER states, “The synthetic aperture radar is the only sensor that can characterize extreme winds, greater than 70 m/s, at a high resolution. These measurements complement existing data, helping scientists to better understand the physical mechanisms of these phenomena.
- "This could also lead to a more accurate analysis of tropical cyclones, particularly their ocean surface wind direction and intensity, and can therefore open possibilities in improving hurricane forecasting."
Figure 22: Hagibis -S1A, 8 October 2019 from 20:30:40 to 20:32:50 UTC: This image shows the ocean surface wind speed of Typhoon Hagibis derived from the Sentinel-1 radar measurements. The high resolution of Sentinel-1 provides an unprecedented detailed insight of the cyclone inner core structure, in particular the eye’s diameter, the radius of maximum winds and the maximum wind speed. In the case of Typhoon Hagibis, on 8 October the Sentinel-1 satellite measured the eye’s diameter at the sea surface as 20 km, the radius of maximum wind speed was 25 km and the maximum wind speed was greater than 60 m/s (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019)/Processed by IFREMER)
Figure 23: This image shows the extent of flooding on Japan’s main island of Honshu. Captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, the image shows the floods in red around the cities of Sendai and Ishinomaki on 12 October (image credit: ESA, this image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
- As well as this, images from before and after a flood offer information on the extent of inundation and can be used to help authorities to assess damage to infrastructure and environment. The Copernicus Sentinel-1 image shows the extent of flooding in red near the cities of Sendai and Ishinomaki on 12 October.
SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity)
- Although originally intended to measure soil moisture and ocean salinity, ESA’s SMOS mission can estimate the wind speed at the sea surface under tropical cyclones.
- The satellite carries a novel microwave sensor to capture images of ‘brightness temperature’. These images correspond to radiation emitted from Earth’s surface, which are usually used to collect information on soil moisture and ocean salinity.
- Strong winds over oceans whip up waves, which in turn affect the microwave radiation from the surface. This means that although strong storms make it difficult to measure salinity, the changes in radiation can be linked to the strength of the wind over the sea.
- While Sentinel-1 provides high resolution information over limited areas, SMOS offers the advantage of a very wide swath providing regular coverage of the entire ocean. These different data complement each other.
- John Knaff, from the NOAA Center for Satellite Applications and Research, says, “Wind field estimates of tropical storms, such as Typhoon Hagibis, are extremely difficult to produce. Over the last few years, satellite observations have become extremely valuable as they are able to estimate surface winds of cyclones.”
- “As track and intensity forecasting errors have become fewer, accurate estimates of the extent and structure of tropical wind field is becoming a higher priority in the tropical cyclone forecasting process. These new capabilities such as wind speed estimates from satellite data are becoming more available to operations, and allow for finer-scale temporal and spatial estimates of tropical cyclone surface wind structures.”
- Nicolas Reul, a scientist at IFREMER says, "The complementing measurements we get from Sentinel-1 and SMOS provide an unprecedented source of information about the surface wind speed structure from the eyewall to the outer core of the high wind region of tropical cyclones. This will help us to better understand the physical mechanisms of these phenomena, and already improves hurricane forecast and warning systems."
Figure 24: This image shows the ocean surface wind speed of Typhoon Hagibis and parts of the Pacific and Indian Ocean derived from SMOS brightness temperature measurements on 11 October. The wide area covered by SMOS allows for a synoptic view (image credit: ESA)
Figure 25: Copernicus Sentinel-3 image. Typhoon Hagibis is headed towards Japan’s main island of Honshu, where it is expected to make landfall over the weekend. Japan is bracing for potential damage from strong winds and torrential rain. This enormous typhoon, which is being compared to a Category 5 hurricane, can be seen in this image captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission on 10 October at 01:00 GMT (10:00 Japan Standard Time). The eye of the storm has a diameter of approximately 60 km (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
• October 17, 2019: A large iceberg, approximately 260 km2, recently calved from the Getz Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Using images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission from 2 September to 14 October 2019, this animation shows the berg breaking off before spinning around in the Amundsen Sea. 60)
Figure 26: The iceberg is approximately 35 km in length, and 10 km wide. Named B47 by the US National Ice Center (NIC), the iceberg was first discovered and confirmed using Copernicus Sentinel-1 imagery by an analyst from the US NIC (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
- The Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission carries radar, which can return images regardless of day or night and this allows us year-round viewing, which is especially important through the long, dark, austral winter months.
• October 1, 2019: A huge iceberg has broken off the Amery Ice Shelf in Antarctica. Dubbed D28, the iceberg is around 1600 km2 – about the size of Greater London. Approximately 30 km wide and 60 km long, it is estimated to weigh over 300 billion tons. 61)
Figure 27: Captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, the animation shows before and after images of the berg breaking away. It is estimated to have calved from the Amery Ice Shelf between 22 and 25 September (image credit: ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
- Scientists say that this is the biggest calving of the Amery Ice Shelf in 50 years. Satellites will continue to monitor and track the iceberg, as it poses a threat for ships in the vicinity.
• September 13, 2019: This Copernicus Sentinel-1 image takes us just south of the US border, to the region of Baja California in northwest Mexico. Its capital city, Mexicali, is visible top left of the image (Figure 28). 62)
- The Colorado River, which forms the border between Baja California and Sonora, can be seen cutting through the rich and colorful patchwork of agricultural land at the top right of the image, before it fans out and splits into multiple streams. Flowing for over 2300 km, the Colorado River rises in the central Rocky Mountains in Colorado, flows through the Grand Canyon before crossing the Mexican border and emptying into the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez.
- The Colorado River delta once covered a large area of land and, owing to its nutrients carried downstream, supported a large population of plant and bird life. However today, water that flows is trapped by dams and is used for residential use, electricity generation as well as crop irrigation for the nearby Imperial Valley and the Mexicali Valley. The reduction in flow by dams and diversions traps the majority of the river’s sediments before they reach the Gulf of California, impacting water quality.
Figure 28: This Sentinel-1 false color image contains three separate images overlaid on top of each other. Captured on 30 April, 12 May and 17 June 2019, the different colors represent changes that occurred on the ground. This image is also featured on the Earth from Space video program (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA)
• September 10, 2019: Reliable maps of sea-ice conditions and forecasts are of vital importance for maritime safety, safe navigation and planning. The continued retreating and thinning of Arctic sea ice calls for a more effective way of producing detailed and timely ice information – which is where artificial intelligence comes in. 63)
- Manual ice-charting from multi-sensor satellite data has been used for years, but it is time-consuming because of the vast area of the Arctic Ocean. In order to provide relevant ice data, there is a need for automated ice observations from satellite data, to integrate into ice forecast models.
- In response to this, the DMI (Danish Meteorological Institute) and DTU (Technical University of Denmark) have initiated the project ASIP (Automated Sea Ice Products) – funded by the Innovation Fund Denmark. The project aims to develop an automatic sea-ice service that can provide more timely and detailed sea-ice information to improve efficiency and safety of marine operations in the Arctic.
- ASIP merges Copernicus Sentinel-1 imagery with other satellite sensor data, such as passive microwave data from the AMSR-2 (Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-2) on JAXA's ALOS-2 satellite mission, to resolve ambiguities that can occur in SAR imagery, such as during windy sea conditions. ASIP uses a convolutional neural network system that is trained with vast datasets of ice charts, to generate ice maps automatically.
- “ASIP will be a great opportunity for users to have an up-to-date map of sea-ice products. We are currently working hard to get this in production and validate it with both the ice experts and the users,” says David Malmgren-Hansen from DTU Compute.
- ASIP will be made freely available through the DMI Ice Service, for maximum value for both public and commercial users.
- David Malmgren-Hansen presented his project at this year’s φ-week event at ESA/ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, which focuses on Earth observation and FutureEO. The week includes a variety of inspiring talks, workshops on how Earth observation can benefit from the latest digital technologies and help shape future missions.
Figure 29: ASIP sea-ice map (image credit: DMI, DTU)
Figure 30: Sea ice. Ship operators require precise up-to-date information on the location of ice edges and open water and the ice type and concentration along their vessel's route (image credit: ESA)
• July 12, 2019: A week after two strong earthquakes struck near the city of Ridgecrest in Southern California, NASA scientists and engineers continue to analyze satellite data for information on fault slips and ruptures. Their observations are helping local authorities assess damage and will also provide useful information to engineers for designing resilient structures that can withstand ruptures like the ones created by the latest quakes. 64)
- The ARIA (Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis) team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, created this map depicting areas that are likely damaged as a result of the recent major earthquakes. The color variation from yellow to red indicates increasingly more significant surface change, or damage. The map covers an area of 155 by 186 miles (250 x 300 km), shown by the large red polygon. Each pixel measures about 30 m across.
- To make the map, the team used SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) images from the European Space Agency's Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites from before and after the sequence of quakes - July 4 and July 10, 2019, respectively. The map may be less reliable over vegetated areas but can provide useful guidance in identifying damaged areas.
- NASA's Disasters Program is in communication with the California Earthquake Clearinghouse, which is coordinating response efforts with the California Air National Guard, the U.S. Geological Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. NASA analysts are using data from satellites to produce visualizations of land deformation and potential landslides, among other earthquake impacts, and are making them available to response agencies. NASA's Disasters Program promotes the use of satellite observations in predicting, preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters around the world. - The ARIA Team's analysis was funded by NASA.
Figure 31: NASA's ARIA team produced this map of earthquake damage in Southern California from the recent temblors in July 2019. The color variation from yellow to red indicates increasingly more significant surface change, or damage (image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech, ESA)
• July 12, 2019: ESA and the Asian Development Bank have joined forces to help the Indonesian government use satellite information to guide the redevelopment following the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the provincial capital of Palu and surroundings last year. 65)
Figure 32: On 28 September 2018, the Indonesian island of Sulawesi was struck by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake followed by a tsunami that devastated the provincial capital of Palu, which lies at the head of a long narrow bay. This map shows the ground motion during the six months following the event and was obtained by processing Copernicus Sentinel-1 images acquired between October 2018 and April 2019. Results overlay a true-color composite from the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. ESA and the Asian Development Bank have joined forces to help Indonesian authorities to use and interpret maps such as this to guide redevelopment plans (image credit: ESA, the image contains Copernicus Sentinel data (2018–19), processed by Planetek Rheticus Service)
- On 28 September 2018, the Indonesian island of Sulawesi was struck by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. The epicenter was on the island’s northwest coast – 77 km north of Palu, which lies at the head of a long narrow bay. The quake triggered a tsunami that swept huge surges of water – as high as 10 m – along the bay and swamped the city.
- The combination of the earthquake, tsunami, soil liquefaction and landslides claimed well over 2000 lives, destroyed homes, buildings, infrastructure and farmland in several districts.
Figure 33: On 28 September 2018, the Indonesian island of Sulawesi was struck by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake followed by a tsunami that devastated the provincial capital of Palu, which lies at the head of a long narrow bay. This terrain motion map uses Copernicus Sentinel-1 images acquired between October 2018 and April 2019 and provides information about the stability of individual buildings (image credit: ESA, the image contains Copernicus Sentinel data (2018–19), processed by Planetek Rheticus Service)
- With the authorities and relief organizations having spent the last nine months dealing with the aftermath, the shift is now into the recovery phase. This includes the daunting job of rebuilding the areas that were decimated by the disaster – and the Asian Development Bank and ESA have joined forces to help the Indonesian government with the task in hand.
- Through ESA’s program to support sustainable development, the aim here is to provide environmental information products derived from Earth observation data and training in their use to Indonesia through the Asian Development Bank.
- The project, ‘Earth Observation for Sustainable Development – Disaster Risk Reduction’, is led by the Spanish company Indra with the Italian SME Planetek as a partner along with the French Geological Survey BRGM who is the scientific advisor of ESA’s Geohazard Exploitation Platform, an initiative that provides a cloud-processing service to support geological hazard mapping.
- The main purpose of sharing these information products is to help the authorities better understand the hazards associated with seismic activity, flooding and landslides so they can make more informed decisions in elaborating a redevelopment master plan.
- Data from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 radar mission can detect ground movement of millimeters in and across wide areas and, therefore, provides a detailed picture of land deformation.
Figure 34: Following the earthquake and tsunami that hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi in September 2018, ESA and the Asian Development Bank have been helping the authorities better understand the hazards associated with seismic activity, flooding and landslides through the use of satellite data. The project included a week-long training course in Jakarta, which explored services from ESA’s Geohazards Exploitation Platform. Ground displacement rate maps of Jakarta that use information from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, as shown here, were used in the course. In this case displacement is largely a result of groundwater extraction. Values correspond to line-of-sight velocities. Local displacement patterns reach about 12 cm/year. The inset zooms-in over Jakarta’s harbor and is overlaid by displacement rates higher than 1.5 cm/year (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, GEP, CNR-IREA & BRGM)
- Ground-motion maps of before and after the earthquake have been produced through Planetek’s automatic cloud-based ‘Rheticus Displacement’ monitoring service. Accurate to a few millimeters, these maps are based on Copernicus Sentinel-1 radar data and are helping the authorities evaluate the effect that the disaster has had on the land surface stability.
- In addition to these information products, the project also included a week-long course in Jakarta organized by the Asian Development Bank and the Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space. Attended by more than 60 representatives from numerous Indonesian institutions, experts from Indra, Planetek and BRGM explained technical details, methodologies and usage of these satellite data products.
Figure 35: Learning about satellite data. Organized by the Asian Development Bank and the Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space, a week-long course was held in Jakarta to help authorities use satellite data to understand ground deformation following the earthquake and tsunami that hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi in September 2018. The course was attended by more than 60 representatives from numerous Indonesian authorities. Experts from Indra, Planetek and BRGM explained the technical details and methodologies of using these satellite data products. Lecturers Michael Foumelis (BRGM), Alberto Lorenzo Alonso (Indra) and Vincenzo Massimi (Planetek) are sitting fifth, sixth and seventh from the left, respectively (image credit: LAPAN)
- Paolo Manunta, who helps ESA with on-site support to the Asian Development Bank, noted, “Users explained that they are particularly interested in the ground deformation maps – they offer great insight into how the land surface has changed and are essential for Indonesia to redevelop effectively.”
- The team has also suggested that the Indonesian government additionally use ESA’s online Geohazard Exploitation Platform, which is designed to support the users looking at seismic risks, volcanoes, subsidence and landslides. It allows the seamless browsing, access and processing of vast amounts of satellite data, plus the software tools to extract useful knowledge.
- The workshop included discussions on how space technology can support hazard and risk mapping in Indonesia and the user feedback obtained will serve as input for discussions between ESA, the Japanese Space Agency and the Asian Development Bank on how to further improve Earth observation for international development.
• June 21, 2019: The Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission takes us over the Lena River Delta, the largest delta in the Arctic. At nearly 4500 km long, the Lena River is one of the longest rivers in the world. The river stems from a small mountain lake in southern Russia, and flows northwards before emptying into the Arctic Ocean, via the Laptev Sea. 66)
- The river is visible in bright yellow, as it splits and divides into many different channels before meandering towards the sea. Sediments carried by the waters flow through a flat plain, creating the Lena River Delta. Hundreds of small lakes and ponds are visible dotted around the tundra.
- The delta’s snow-covered tundra is frozen for most of the year, before thawing and blossoming into a fertile wetland during the brief polar summer – a 32,000 km2 haven for Arctic wildlife. Swans, geese and ducks are some of the migratory birds that breed in the productive wetland, which also supports fish and marine mammals.
- In 1995, the Lena Delta Reserve was expanded, making it the largest protected area in Russia.
Figure 36: This false-color image was captured on 14 January 2019, the peak of the Arctic winter, and shows a large amount of ice in the waters surrounding the delta. Cracks can be seen in the turquoise-colored ice at the top of the image, and several icebergs can also be seen floating in the Arctic waters to the right. Snow can also be seen in yellow on the mountains at the bottom of the image. This image is also featured in this week's edition of the Earth from Space program (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
• April 12, 2019: The Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission takes us over the busy maritime traffic passing through the English Channel. 67)
- Many vessels crossing at the narrowest part of the English Channel can be seen in the far right of the image. Connecting Dover in England to Calais in northern France, the Strait of Dover is another major route, with over 400 vessels crossing every day. The shortest distance across the Channel is just 33 km, making it possible to see the opposite coastline on a clear day.
- The cities of London and Paris, other towns and buildings and even wind turbines in the English Channel are visible in white owing to the strong reflection of the radar signal.
Figure 37: The two identical Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites carry radar instruments, which can see through clouds and rain, and in the dark, to image Earth’s surface below. Here, hundreds of radar images spanning 2016 to 2018 over the same area have been, compressed into a single image. The sea surface reflects the radar signal away from the satellite, making water appear dark in the image. This contrasts metal objects, in this case ships, which appear as bright dots in the dark water. Boats that passed the English Channel in 2016 appear in blue, those from 2017 appear in green, and those from 2018 appear in red. Owing to its narrowness, as well as its strategic connection of the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, the Channel is very busy with east-west ship traffic. Because of the volume of vessels passing through daily, a two-lane scheme is used, in order to avoid collisions. The two lanes can easily be detected in the image. This image is also featured on the Earth from Space video program (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016-18), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
• March 29, 2019: Separating the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, the strait is one of the busiest maritime passages in the world, with around 48,000 ships passing through every year. Daily traffic includes international commercial shipping vessels and oil tankers, as well as local fishing and ferries. Ships in the strait can be seen in the image as multi-colored dots. Three bridges are also visible spanning the strait and connecting the two continents. 68)
- The two identical Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites carry radar instruments, which can see through clouds and rain, and in the dark, to image Earth’s surface below. The multi-temporal remote sensing technique combines two or more radar images over the same area to detect changes occurring between acquisitions.
- In the far-left of the image of Figure 38, the aqua-green patches of land show the changes in the fields between the three satellite acquisitions.
- Turkey’s most populous city, Istanbul (population of around 15 million residents in its metropolitan area) , can be seen on both sides of the Bosphorus (mostly spelled as Bosporus). The city appears in shades of white owing to the stronger reflection of the radar signal from buildings, which contrasts with the dark black color of the inland lakes and surrounding waters.
Figure 38: Captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, this image shows the narrow strait that connects eastern Europe to western Asia: the Bosphorus in northwest Turkey. The image contains satellite data stitched together from three radar scans acquired on 2 June, 8 July and 13 August 2018. This image is also featured on the Earth from Space video program (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2018), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
• March 27, 2019: It is thought that well over a million people have been affected by what is probably the worst storm on record to hit the southern hemisphere. Making landfall on 15 March 2019, Cyclone Idai ripped through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, razing buildings to the ground, destroying roads and inundating entire towns, villages and swathes of farmland. The human death toll is still unknown. While humanitarian efforts continue, people are now also facing the mammoth task of picking up the pieces and cleaning up after this devastating storm. 69)
- Images from Copernicus Sentinel-1 contributed to activations triggered in the Copernicus Emergency Management Service and the International Charter Space and Major Disasters. Both services take advantage of observations from several satellites and provide on-demand mapping to help civil protection authorities and the international humanitarian community in the face of major emergencies.
Figure 39: This Copernicus Sentinel-1 image indicates where the flood waters are finally beginning to recede west of the port city of Beira in Mozambique. The image merges three separate satellite radar images from before the storm on 13 March, from one of the days when the floods were at their worst on 19 March, and as the waters are beginning to drain away on 25 March. The blue-purple color indicates where floodwater is receding, while areas shown in red are still underwater (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
• March 20, 2019: Copernicus Sentinel-1 acquired this radar image of the oil slick, the large, dark patch visible in the center of the image, stretching about 50 km. Marine vessels are identifiable as smaller white points, which could be those assisting in the clean-up process. 70)
- Oil is still emerging from the ship now lying at a depth of around 4500 meters. French authorities trying to reduce the impact of pollution along the coast.
- Satellite radar is particularly useful for monitoring the progression of oil spills because the presence of oil on the sea surface dampens down wave motion. Since radar basically measures surface texture, oil slicks show up well – as black smears on a grey background.
Figure 40: Captured on 19 March at 17:11 GMT (18:11 CET) by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, this image shows the oil spill from the Grande America vessel. The Italian container ship, carrying 2200 tons of heavy fuel, caught fire and sank in the Atlantic, about 300 km off the French coast on 12 March (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2018), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
• March 20, 2019: As millions of people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe struggle to cope with the aftermath of what could be the southern hemisphere’s worst storm, Copernicus Sentinel-1 is one of the satellite missions being used to map flooded areas to help relief efforts. 71)
Figure 41: Millions of people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe are struggling to cope with the aftermath of what could be the southern hemisphere’s worst storm: Cyclone Idai. This image is from Copernicus Sentinel-1 and shows the extent of flooding, depicted in red, around the port town of Beira in Mozambique on 19 March. This mission is also supplying imagery through the Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service to aid relief efforts (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
- Cyclone Idai swept through this part of southeast Africa over the last few days, leaving devastation in its wake. Thousands of people have died and houses, roads and croplands are under water.
- It is currently thought that well over two million people in the three countries have been affected, but the extent of destruction is still unfolding.
- It is currently thought that well over two million people in the three countries have been affected, but the extent of destruction is still unfolding.
Figure 42: Captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission, this image shows Cyclone Idai on 13 March 2019 west of Madagascar and heading for Mozambique. Here, the width of the storm is around 800–1000 km, but does not include the whole extent of Idai. The storm went on to cause widespread destruction in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. With thousands of people losing their lives, and houses, roads and croplands submerged, the International Charter Space and Major Disasters and the Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service were triggered to supply maps of flooded areas based on satellite data to help emergency response efforts (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA)
- In order to plan and execute this kind of emergency response it is vital to understand exactly which areas have been affected – especially as accessing people cut off is extremely challenging.
- Satellites orbiting Earth can provide indispensable up-to-date information to observe such events, as shown here on the right from the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission, and, importantly, to map flooded areas for response teams facing these dire situations.
- The disaster triggered activations in both the Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service and the International Charter Space and Major Disasters.
- Both services take advantage of observations from several satellites and provide on-demand mapping to help civil protection authorities and the international humanitarian community in the face of major emergencies.
- The image of Figure 41 is from Copernicus Sentinel-1 and shows the extent of flooding, depicted in red, around the port town of Beira in Mozambique on 19 March. The image of Figure 43 uses the mission to map the flood for relief response through the Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service.
- Sentinel-1’s radar ability to ‘see’ through clouds and rain, and in darkness, makes it particularly useful for monitoring floods.
- Images acquired before and after flooding offer immediate information on the extent of inundation and support assessments of property and environmental damage.
Figure 43: Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall on 14 March 2019 close to the port city of Beira in Mozambique. This map, which was generated through the Copernicus Emergency Management Service, uses information from the EC’s Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission on 19 March (bright blue), and Italy’s Cosmo-SkyMed satellite on 16 March (light blue) to map the floods to aid relief efforts. More maps of floods caused by Cyclone Idai are available at the Copernicus Emergency Management Service website (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), Cosmo-SkyMed, processed by GAF AG/e-GEOS/CMEMS)
• March 14, 2019: The Bering Strait is a sea passage that separates Russia and Alaska. It is usually covered with sea ice at this time of year – but as this image captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission on 7 March 2019 shows, it is virtually ice-free. 72)
- The extent of sea ice in the Bering Sea has dropped lower than it has been since written records began in 1850, and is most likely because of warm air and water temperatures. On average, the fluctuating sea ice in this region increases until early April, depending on wind and wave movement.
- To travel between Arctic and Pacific, marine traffic passes through the Bering Strait. Owing to the reduction of ice in the region, traffic has increased significantly.
- The Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites provide images to generate maps of sea-ice conditions for safe passage in the busy Arctic waters, as well as distinguish between thinner, more navigable first-year ice and thicker, more hazardous ice. Each satellite carries an advanced radar instrument to image Earth’s surface through cloud and rain, regardless of whether it is day or night.
Figure 44: The Bering Strait is a narrow passage - around 80 km wide - connecting the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. The few patches of sea ice are shown in light-blue colors. According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center in Boulder, CO, between 27 January to 3 March 2019, sea-ice extent decreased from 566,000 km2 to 193,000 km2. Sea ice was also exceptionally low last year, but it has been reported that this March the extent of sea ice is the lowest in the 40-year satellite record (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
• March 14, 2019: The Copernicus Sentinel-1 radar mission shows how cracks cutting across Antarctica’s Brunt ice shelf are on course to truncate the shelf and release an iceberg about the size of Greater London – it’s just a matter of time. 73)
- The Brunt ice shelf is an area of floating ice bordering the Coats Land coast in the Weddell Sea sector of Antarctica.
Figure 45: Using radar images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission the animation shows two lengthening fractures: a large chasm running northwards and a split, dubbed Halloween Crack, that has been extending eastwards since October 2016. They are now only separated by a few kilometers. The image show two lengthening fractures: a large chasm, Chasm 1, running northwards and a split, dubbed Halloween Crack, that has been extending eastwards since October 2016. They are now only separated by a few kilometers. Halloween Crack runs from an area known as McDonald Ice Rumples, which is where the underside of the otherwise floating ice sheet is grounded on the shallow seabed. This pinning point slows the flow of ice and crumples the ice surface into waves. The Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission carries radar, which can return images regardless of day or night and this allows us year-round viewing, which is especially important through the long, dark, austral winter months (video credit: ESA, the video contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016–19), processed by ESA)
- The Brunt ice shelf is at its maximum extent during the satellite era and compared to images collected by Argon declassified intelligence satellite photographs in 1963 and maps made by Frank Worsley during the Endurance expedition into the Weddell Sea in 1915.
Figure 46: Changing locations of Brunt calving. A comparison of the Brunt ice shelf calving front locations over the last 100 years, based on 1915 and 1958 historical survey data from the Endurance expedition (Worsley 1921) and the International Geophysical Year, respectively, followed by the location in satellite images from Landsat in 1973 and 1978, ESA’s, Envisat in 2011, and Copernicus Sentinel-1 in 2019. A comparison of the images indicates that the Brunt ice shelf is at its maximum 20th Century extent (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel-2 data (2019), courtesy Stef l'Hermitte TU Delft)
- History shows that the last event was in 1971 when a portion of ice calved north of the Ice Rumples and in what appears to have been a previous iteration of today’s Halloween Crack which is separating along lines of weakness.
- Mark Drinkwater, Head of ESA’s Earth and Mission Science Division, says, “Importantly, tracking the entire ice shelf movement reveals a lot going on north of the Halloween Crack, where the shelf flows in a more northerly direction. Meanwhile, this divergence is splitting the northern and southern parts of the shelf along the Halloween Crack. Interestingly, the animation also reveals a widening split right across the Ice Rumples, which may also put the structural integrity of this northern outer segment into question. We have been observing the Brunt ice shelf for decades and it is constantly changing. Early maps made in the 1970s indicate that the ice shelf was more like a mass of small icebergs welded together by sea ice.”
Figure 47: Cracks cutting across Antarctica’s Brunt ice shelf are on course to truncate the shelf and release an iceberg about the size of Greater London. The Brunt ice shelf is an area of floating ice bordering the Coats Land coast in the Weddell Sea sector of Antarctica (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
Legend to Figure 47: This Copernicus Sentinel-2 image from 7 February 2019 shows two lengthening fractures: a large chasm running northwards and a split, dubbed Halloween Crack, that has been extending eastwards since October 2016. They are now only separated by a few kilometers. The Halloween Crack runs from an area known as McDonald Ice Rumples, which is where the underside of the otherwise floating ice sheet is grounded on the shallow seabed. This pinning point slows the flow of ice and crumples the ice surface into waves. Routine monitoring by satellites with different observing capabilities offer unprecedented views of events happening in remote regions like Antarctica, and how ice shelves manage to retain their structural integrity in response to changes in ice dynamics, air and ocean temperatures.
- As the ice flows down the steep coastal area and across the grounding line into the floating ice shelf, it fractures into a series of regular blocks. The structural integrity of the shelf relies on the fractures being filled over decades by marine ice and snow. Since Copernicus Sentinel-1 radar penetrates through the surface snow, this pattern of fractures is revealed to give Brunt its skeletal-like appearance.
- When the chasm and cracks around McDonald ice rumples finally intersect, it is likely that the northern end of the calved iceberg remains pinned by its grounding point, leaving the southern end of the berg to swing out into the ocean.
- Although it may be the biggest berg observed to break off Brunt, compared to the recent Larsen ice shelf iceberg A68, for example, it won’t be a particularly large one. However, the concern is that this calving could allow the ice left behind to flow more freely towards the ocean.
- “We are now poised for this eventual calving, which could have consequences for the ice shelf as a whole. After the 1971 calving, ice shelf velocities are reported to have doubled from 1 to 2 m/day. So we will be carefully monitoring the ice shelf with the combination of both Copernicus Sentinel-1 and Copernicus Sentinel-2, which carries an optical instrument, to see how the dynamics influence the integrity of the remaining ice sheet,” continues Dr Drinkwater.
- With the ice shelf currently deemed unsafe, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has closed up their Halley VI research station, which was repositioned south of Halloween Crack and east of the chasm in 2017.
- The station used to be operational all year round, but this is the third winter running that it has had to close because of potential danger.
- There has been a permanent research station on Brunt since the late 1950s, but in 2016–17 the base was dragged 23 km to its current, more secure location. If it had not been moved, it would now be on the seaward side of the chasm.
- Routine monitoring by satellites with different observing capabilities offer unprecedented views of events happening in remote regions like Antarctica, and how ice shelves manage to retain their structural integrity in response to changes in ice dynamics, air and ocean temperatures.
- The Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission carries radar, which can return images regardless of day or night and this allows us year-round viewing, which is especially important through the long, dark, austral winter months. A recent image from the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission provides complementary information.
• February 22, 2019: When Mount Agung, a volcano on the island of Bali in Indonesia erupted in November 2017, the search was on to find out why it had stirred. Thanks to information on ground deformation from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, scientists now have more insight into the volcano’s hidden secrets that caused it to reawaken. 74)
Figure 48: Copernicus Sentinel-1 InSAR data shows ground uplift on the flank of Mount Agung, which is on the island of Bali in Indonesia. The data show uplift between August and November 2017, prior to the eruption of Mount Agung on 27 November. The eruption was preceded by a wave of small earthquakes. A team led by Bristol University’s School of Earth Sciences in the UK used radar data from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 radar mission and the technique of InSAR to map ground motion, which may indicate that fresh magma is moving beneath the volcano. Their research provides the first geophysical evidence that Agung and the neighboring Batur volcano may have a connected plumbing system (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2017), processed by University of Bristol/COMET)
- After lying dormant for more than 50 years, Mount Agung on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali rumbled back to life in November 2017, with smoke and ash causing airport closures and stranding thousands of visitors.
- Fortunately, it was preceded by a wave of small earthquakes, signalling the imminent eruption and giving the authorities time to evacuate around 100,000 people to safety.
- The prior event in 1963, however, claimed almost 2000 lives and was one of the deadliest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century. Knowing Agung’s potential for devastation, scientists have gone to great lengths to understand this volcano’s reawakening.
- And, Agung has remained active, slowly erupting on and off since 2017.
- Bali is home to two active stratovolcanoes, Agung and Batur, but relatively little is known of their underlying magma plumbing systems. A clue came from the fact that Agung’s 1963 eruption was followed by a small eruption at its neighboring volcano, Batur, 16 km away.
- A paper published recently in Nature Communications describes how a team of scientists, led by the University of Bristol in the UK, used radar data from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission to monitor the ground deformation around Agung. 75)
- Their findings may have important implications for forecasting future eruptions in the area, and indeed further afield.
Figure 49: As an advanced radar mission, Sentinel-1 satellites can image the surface of Earth through cloud and rain and regardless of whether it is day or night. This makes it an ideal mission, for example, for monitoring the polar regions, which are in darkness during the winter months and for monitoring tropical forests, which are typically shrouded by cloud. Over oceans, the mission will provide imagery to generate timely maps of sea-ice conditions for safe passage, to detect and track oil spills and to provide information on wind and waves, for example. Over land, Sentinel-1’s systematic observations will be used, for example, to track changes in the way the land is used and to monitor ground movement. Moreover, this new mission is designed specifically for fast response to aid emergencies and disasters such as flooding and earthquakes (video credit: ESA/ATG medialab)
- They used the remote sensing technique of InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar), where two or more radar images over the same area are combined to detect slight surface changes.
- Tiny changes on the ground cause differences in the radar signal and lead to rainbow-colored interference patterns in the combined image, known as a SAR interferogram. These interferograms can show how land is uplifting or subsiding.
- Juliet Biggs from Bristol University’s School of Earth Sciences, said, “Using radar data from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 radar mission and the technique of InSAR, we are able to map any ground motion, which may indicate that fresh magma is moving beneath the volcano.”
- In the study, which was carried out in collaboration with the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation in Indonesia, the team detected uplift of about 8–10 cm on Agung’s northern flank during the period of intense earthquake activity prior to the eruption.
- Fabien Albino, also from Bristol's School of Earth Sciences and who led the research, added, “Surprisingly, we noticed that both the earthquake activity and the ground deformation signal were five kilometers away from the summit, which means that magma must be moving sideways as well as vertically upwards. - Our study provides the first geophysical evidence that Agung and Batur volcanoes may have a connected plumbing system. This has important implications for eruption forecasting and could explain the occurrence of simultaneous eruptions such as in 1963.”
- Part of European Union’s fleet of Copernicus missions, Sentinel-1 is a two-satellite constellation that can provide interferometric information every six days – important for monitoring rapid change. Each satellite carries an advanced radar instrument that can image Earth’s surface through cloud and rain and regardless of whether it is day or night.
- ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission manager, Pierre Potin, noted, “We see the mission is being used for a multitude of practical applications, from mapping floods to charting changes in ice. Understanding processes that are going on below the ground’s surface – as demonstrated by this new research – is clearly important, especially when these natural processes can put people’s lives and property at risk.”
- While the European Union is at the helm of Copernicus, ESA develops, builds and launches the dedicated Sentinel satellites. It also operates some of the missions and ensures the availability of data from third party missions contributing to the Copernicus program.
Figure 50: This image of Mount Agung on the Indonesian island of Bali was captured on 2 July 2018 by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission (the image was released on 22 February 2019, offering a ‘camera-like’ view of the Agung and Batur volcanoes). After being dormant for 50 years, Mount Agung erupted in November 2017. It has continued to erupt on and off since then – a bright orange spot can be seen in the volcano’s crater. Recent research provides evidence that Agung and the neighboring Batur volcano, visible northwest of Agung, may have a connected magma plumbing system (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2018), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
• February 1, 2019: This week's edition of the Earth from Space program features a Copernicus Sentinel-1 image over one of the areas in Iraq that suffered flooding recently. 76)
- The town of Kut is in the lower-center of the image. It lies within a sharp ‘U-bend’ of the Tigris River, which can be seen meandering across the full width of the image. The image has been processed to show floods in red, and it is clear to see that much of the area was affected including agricultural fields around the town. Dark patches in the image, including the large patch in the center , however, indicate that there was no or little change between the satellite acquisitions.
- After the searing dry heat of summer, November typically signals the start of Iraq’s ‘rainy season’ –but November 2018 brought heavier rainstorms than usual. Many parts of the country were flooded as a result. Thousands of people had to be evacuated, and infrastructure, agricultural fields and other livelihoods were destroyed, and tragically the floods also claimed lives. Declared an emergency, the International Charter Space and Major Disasters was activated. The Charter takes advantage of observations from a multitude of satellites to aid emergency relief. Images from Copernicus Sentinel-1 contributed to this particular effort.
- The two identical Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites carry radar instruments, which can see through clouds and rain, and in the dark, to image Earth’s surface below. This capability is particularly useful for monitoring and mapping floods, as the image shows. Satellite images play an increasingly important role in responding to disaster situations, especially when lives are at risk. Also, after an event, when damage assessments are needed and plans are being made to rebuild, images from satellites are a valuable resource.
Figure 51: This Copernicus Sentinel-1 image combines two acquisitions over the same area of eastern Iraq, one from 14 November 2018 before heavy rains fell and one from 26 November 2018 after the storms. The image reveals the extent of flash flooding in red, near the town of Kut. This image is also featured on the Earth from Space video program (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2018), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
• January 10, 2019: Images acquired every six days by the European Union’s Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites are being used to map ground movement across two billion measurement sites in Norway, revealing shifts as small as one millimeter a year. 77)
- Thanks to this information, the Geological Survey of Norway, the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, and the Norwegian Space Center have recently launched the Norwegian Ground Motion Service – InSAR Norway.
- This new service will provide the basis for strategic governmental use of interferometry in Norway. Interferometry is a technique involving multiple repeat satellite radar images over the same scene that are combined to identify slight alterations between acquisitions, thus 'spotting the difference’.
- The service will map ground deformation caused by, for example, subsidence. It will also assess the risk of landslides and monitor changes in infrastructure in urban areas. Furthermore, the service will lead to downstream commercial and public use – for instance in sectors such as big data analysis, insurance, real estate, structural engineering and transport infrastructure.
- The service will also benefit road and rail authorities, municipalities and city planners, as well as citizens.
Figure 52: On 29 November 2018, the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU), the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) and the Norwegian Space Center launched the Norwegian Ground Motion Service, InSAR Norway, to help monitor and measure all of Norway’s ground movements, using Copernicus Sentinel-1 data. InSAR data is given at full resolution, freely and openly available to everyone from the InSAR Norway portal (image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2018)/processed by InSAR Norway and powered by KSAT-GMS)
- InSAR Norway aims to find all unstable rock slopes in Norway that could collapse catastrophically, and understand the geologic conditions of each unstable slope and rank them based upon their hazard and risk, and establishing a 24/7 early-warning system where necessary.
- John Dehls, from the Geological Survey of Norway, stated, “Setting-up such an operational ground motion service has had significant technical challenges. However, we are already seeing the first benefits. New critical areas prone to large landslides were discovered within days of the first dataset being produced. These will be followed up with fieldwork next summer. - We consider that the information provided by the InSAR Norway service will be of interest not only for public and commercial entities, but also for citizens. We have decided to provide the related data at full resolution, freely and openly to everyone. Furthermore, InSAR Norway data will be maintained and updated at regular intervals, thus creating predictability for long-term operational users”.
Figure 53: The service uses images acquired every six days by the Sentinel-1 satellites of the European Union's Copernicus Program. Over 4000 images a year, in two different geometries (so-called ascending and descending orbit passes) are used, ensuring that more than two billion locations in Norway can now be measured and continuously monitored to within1mm/year. This represents an average of more than 6,000 measurement locations/km2. 78)
Legend to Figure 53: On 29 November 2018, NGU, NVE and the NSC (Norwegian Space Center) launched the operational Norwegian Ground Motion Service with InSAR subsidence data at full resolution, free and open to everyone on the InSAR Norway portal. More than 25,000 users accessed the service in the first week of operation.
Figure 54: This 3D image map covered with InSAR measurement points showing a mountain on the move in Osmundneset, Gloppen, Norway. The dark red points correspond to subsidence of up to 2 cm/year, while green ones correspond to negligible movement. The inlet figure shows the average subsidence of 2236 points for the light grey marked polygon in the map. The average velocity of the subsidence is calculated at some 4-5 mm/year for the period 2015-2018 Image credit: ESA, the image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2018)/processed by InSAR Norway and powered by KSAT-GMS)
- The Norwegian research institute, Norut, and the Dutch company PPO.Labs, have been the research and development partners for InSAR Norway, through the KSAT-GMS partnership with the Norwegian Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT). The official unveiling was the result of several years of intensive research and development activities, from the design phase of innovative algorithms to implementation and operationalization of the service.
- The main goal of this free service is to produce operational Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) ground deformation measurements over Norway and improve accessibility of InSAR results for public and commercial users.
- InSAR Norway will provide the basis for strategic governmental use of interferometry in Norway, by mapping ground deformation such as subsidence, assessing rock-slide risks and by monitoring infrastructure in cities. Furthermore, the service will be a tool for creating downstream commercial and public use, for instance in geotechnical, climate, big data analysis, insurance, real estate, structural engineering and transport infrastructure applications. The service will also benefit users such as road authorities, railroad authorities, municipalities and city planners, as well as citizens.
Beyond Norway: towards a European ground motion service (Ref. 78)
- "We are very proud of the state-of-the-art tools and methods our team from NGU, NSC, NVE, Norut, PPO.Labs and KSAT-GMS have been able to develop for the InSAR Norway operational ground motion service. Personally, I think this is a breakthrough for applied operational nation-wide large-scale use of InSAR."
- A European–wide Copernicus ground motion service based on Sentinel-1 data is under planning by the European Commission in partnership with the European Environment Agency and the states participating in the Copernicus Earth Observation program.
- "This is a very important and valuable development also for Europe, which we look forward to supporting, as well as collaborating with the European Commission and nations in Europe to make it happen successfully", concluded Dag Anders Moldestad and John Dehls.
Copernicus Sentinel-1 continued
Sensor complement: (C-SAR)
C-SAR (C-band SAR instrument):
The C-SAR instrument is designed and developed by EADS Astrium GmbH of Germany. The instrument provides an all-weather, day and night imaging capability to capture measurement data at high and medium resolutions for land, coastal zones and ice observations.
The C-SAR instrument is an active phased array antenna providing fast scanning in elevation (to cover the large range of incidence angle and to support ScanSAR operation) and in azimuth (to allow use of TOPS technique to meet the required image performance). To meet the polarization requirements, it has dual channel transmit and receive modules and H/V-polarised pairs of slotted waveguides.
It has an internal calibration scheme, where transmit signals are routed into the receiver to allow monitoring of amplitude/phase to facilitate high radiometric stability.
Sentinel-1's metalized carbon-fiber-reinforced-plastic radiating waveguides ensure good radiometric stability even though these elements are not covered by the internal calibration scheme. The digital chirp generator and selectable receive filter bandwidths allow efficient use of on-board storage considering the ground range resolution dependence on incidence angle.
The goal of the all-weather imaging capability of the C-SAR instrument is to provide measurement data at high and medium resolutions for land, coastal zones and ice observations in cloudy regions and during night, coupled with radar interferometry capability for detection of small (mm or sub-mm level) ground movements, with the appropriate frequencies and operating modes required to support the Copernicus services. 79) 80) 81) 82) 83) 84) 85) 86) 87) 88) 89) 90) 91) 92)
The Sentinel-1 requirements call for the support of four observation/acquisition modes:
• SM (Stripmap mode): 80 km swath with a spatial resolution of 5 m x 5 m
• IW (Interferometric Wide swath) mode: 250 km swath, 5 m x 20 m spatial resolution and burst synchronization for interferometry. IW is considered to be the standard mode over land masses.
- satisfies most currently known service requirements
- avoids conflicts and preserves revisit performance
- provides robustness and reliability of service
- simplifies mission planning & decreases operational costs
- satisfies also tomorrow’s requests by building up a consistent long-term archive.
The IW mode images three subswaths using TOPSAR (Terrain Observation with Progressive Scans SAR). With the TOPSAR technique, in addition to steering the beam in range as in ScanSAR, the beam is also electronically steered from backward to forward in the azimuth direction for each burst, avoiding scalloping and resulting in a higher quality image. Interferometry is ensured by sufficient overlap of the Doppler spectrum (in the azimuth domain) and the wave number spectrum (in the elevation domain). The TOPSAR technique ensures homogeneous image quality throughout the swath.
• EW (Extra Wide Swath) mode: 400 km swath and 25 m x 100 m spatial resolution (3-looks). - Six overlapping swathes have to be foreseen to cover the required access range of 375 km.
• WV (Wave mode): low data rate and 5 m x 20 m spatial resolution. Sampled images of 20 km x 20 km at 100 km intervals along the orbit. The Wave mode at VV polarization is the default mode for acquiring data over open ocean. WV mode is acquired at the same bit rate as SM however, due to the small vignettes, single polarization and sensing at 100 km intervals, the data volume is much lower. The table below shows the main characteristics of the Wave mode.
Figure 55: Alternating WV mode acquisitions (image credit: ESA)
Except for the wave mode, which is a single polarization mode (HH or VV), the SAR instrument has to support operations in dual polarization (HH-HV, VV-VH), requiring the implementation of one transmit chain (switchable to H or V) and two parallel receive chains for H and V polarization. The specific needs of the four different measurement modes with respect to antenna agility require the implementation of an active phased array antenna. For each swath the antenna has to be configured to generate a beam with fixed azimuth and elevation pointing. Appropriate elevation beamforming has to be applied for range ambiguity suppression.
Figure 56: Overview of the Sentinel-1 C-SAR instrument observation scheme and operational support modes (image credit: ESA)
Table 8: Key parameters of the C-SAR instrument
Table 9: Overview of the Sentinel-1 operational concept (Ref. 15)
Introduction of a new SAR imaging mode (new observation technology):
The IW (Interferometric Wide swath) mode is being implemented with a new type of ScanSAR mode called TOPS (Terrain Observation with Progressive Scan) SAR operations support mode (note: the terms TOPS and SAR is simply contracted to TOPSAR). TOPSAR is an ESA-proposed acquisition mode (Francesco De Zan and Andrea Monti Guarnieri) for wide swath imaging which aims at reducing the drawbacks of the ScanSAR mode. The basic principle of TOPSAR is the shrinking of the azimuth antenna pattern (along-track direction) as seen by a spot target on ground. This is obtained by steering the antenna in the opposite direction as for Spotlight support. The TOPSAR signal includes particularities of both ScanSAR and Spotlights modes, but existing processing algorithms do not provide an efficient processing of TOPSAR data. - The EW (Extra Wide swath) mode is also implemented with the TOPS capability (Table 10).
The TOPSAR mode is intended to replace the conventional ScanSAR mode. The technique aims at achieving the same coverage and resolution as ScanSAR, but with a nearly uniform SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio) and DTAR (Distributed Target Ambiguity Ratio). 93) 94) 95)
The TOPSAR mode will be implemented on the Sentinel-1 mission due to the performance advantages compared to ScanSAR. The TOPSAR technique has already been demonstrated on the TerraSAR-X spacecraft during its commissioning phase (fall 2007) and showed very promising results. The measured values of the intensity variation of the analyzed images corresponded very well with the expected theoretical values. Scalloping in the TOPSAR image is 0.3 dB against 1.2 dB in the ScanSAR image. Additionally, fewer bursts are required in TOPSAR, which also positively affects the image quality. 96) 97) 98) 99) 100) 101)
TOPS is employing a rotation of the antenna in the azimuth direction as is shown in Figure 57. Like in ScanSAR, several subswaths are acquired quasi simultaneously by subswath switching from burst to burst. The increased swath coverage is as in ScanSAR achieved by a reduced azimuth resolution. However, in TOPS the resolution reduction is obtained by shrinking virtually the effective antenna footprint to an on-ground target, rather than slicing the antenna pattern, as it happens for ScanSAR. 102)
Concerning the implementation of TOPS InSAR, the Sentinel-1 C-SAR system is designed to enable TOPS burst synchronization of repeat-pass datatakes supporting the generation of TOPS interferograms and coherence maps. Specifically, for the IW and EW modes the TOPS burst duration is 0.82 s and 0.54 s (worst case), respectively, with a requirement for achieving a synchronization of less than 5 ms between corresponding bursts (Ref. 110).
Furthermore, a critical issue for TOPS InSAR performance is the accuracy that is required for TOPS image co-registration. A small co-registration error in azimuth can introduce an azimuth phase ramp due to the SAR antenna azimuth beam sweeping causing Doppler centroid frequency variations of 5.5 kHz.
Figure 58: Alternate view of the TOPSAR subswath acquisition (image credit: ESA)
The TOPS demonstration, conducted for ESA in 2007 with TerraSAR-X data, was conducted with the ETT (Experimental TerraSAR-X TOPS) processor; the test was based on sub-aperture processing, the Extended Chirp scaling algorithm and BAS (Baseband Azimuth Scaling). - The SPT (Sentinel-1 Prototype TOPS) processor is based on a pre-processing stage to unfold the azimuth spectrum, a standard ω-k focusing block and an azimuth one-dimensional ‘unfolding’ processing block. It is an extension of the standard ω-k based ScanSAR processor developed for the Envisat ASAR instrument (Ref. 102).
Comparison of both processors: The comparison of the SPT (Sentinel-1 Prototype TOPS) processor with the ETT (Experimental TerraSAR-X TOPS) processor turned out to be a complex task. The results are confirming both processing approaches mutually.
TOPS implementation on RADARSAT-2: The objective of simulating Sentinel-1 TOPS mode image data products using RADARSAT-2 is to support the implementation of the TOPS mode, specifically the Interferometric Wide swath (IW) mode, on ESA’s Sentinel-1 mission. The use of real C-band RADARSAT-2 TOPS image data enables the preparation for the Sentinel-1 exploitation phase (i.e. GMES Initial Operations (GIO)). In particular, the provision of Sentinel-1 like TOPS image products to operational Copernicus/GMES services and other users will help the user community to prepare and verify their SAR data post-processing chains including ingestion tools etc., prior to the launch of Sentinel-1A. 103) 104)
The Canadian RADARSAT-2 mission operates at the same C-band frequency (5.405 GHz) as the Sentinel-1 mission. The RADARSAT-2 SAR instrument with its phased array antenna has multiple SAR imaging modes, including ScanSAR modes, as well as it has quad-polarization and repeat-pass SAR Interferometry (InSAR) capabilities. The RADARSAT-2 mission has been implemented as a public-private partnership between the Government of Canada and MDA (MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.), whereby MDA has the commercial data rights.
The design and implementation of the experimental TOPS mode on RADARSAT-2 resembles as closely as possible the performance characteristics of the Sentinel-1 IW mode, within the constraints imposed by the design and implementation of RADARSAT-2. The RADARSAT-2 TOPS image data sets have been processed to Level 1 SLC (Single Look Complex) data with the Sentinel-1 Image Processing Facility (IPF) and are provided in the official Sentinel-1 Level (SLC) product format.
The experimental RADARSAT-2 TOPS mode is referred to as PSNB (Progressive ScanSAR Narrow B). It is based on the existing RADARSAT-2 SCNB (ScanSAR Narrow B) mode. This mode uses 3 sub-swaths, like the Sentinel-1 IW mode, and covers a comparable range of incidence angles.
The Sentinel-1 satellites carry a single payload consisting of a C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instrument. The instrument is composed of two major subsystems:
• SES (SAR Electronics Subsystem)
• SAS (SAR Antenna Subsystem).
Figure 59: The block diagram of C-SAR (image credit: EADS Astrium, ESA)
The radar signal is generated at baseband by the chirp generator and up-converted to C-band within the SES. This signal is distributed to the HPA (High Power Amplifiers) inside the EFE (Electronic Front End) Transmit/Receive Modules (TRMs) via the beam forming network of the SAS. Signal radiation and echo reception are performed with the same antenna using slotted waveguide radiators. When receiving, the echo signal is amplified by the low noise amplifiers inside the TRM and summed up using the same network as for transmit signal distribution. After filtering and down conversion to baseband inside the SES (SAR Electronics Subsystem), the echo signal is digitized and formatted for recording. 105) 106) 107)
The key design aspects of the C-SAR instrumentation can be summarized as follows:
• Active phased array antenna providing fast scanning in elevation (to cover the large range of incidence angle and to support ScanSAR operation) and in azimuth (to allow use of the TOPS technique to meet the required image performance)
• Dual channel TRM (Transmit & Receive Modules) and H/V-polarized pairs of slotted waveguides (to meet the polarization requirements)
• Internal Calibration scheme, where transmit signals are routed into the receiver to allow monitoring of amplitude/phase to facilitate high radiometric stability
• Metalized CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic) radiating waveguides to ensure good radiometric stability even though these elements are not covered by the internal calibration scheme
• Digital chirp generator and selectable receive filter bandwidths to allow efficient use of on board storage considering the ground range resolution dependence on incidence angle
• FDBAQ (Flexible Dynamic Block Adaptive Quantization) to allow efficient use of on-board storage and minimize downlink times with negligible impact on image noise.
SES (SAR Electronics Subsystem)
The SES forms the core of the radar instrument connecting the SAS for transmission of Tx pulses and receiving of backscattered pulses from ground targets. The SES provides all radar control, IF/RF signal generation and receive data handling functions comprising: 108)
- radar command and control, timing control, and redundancy control
- transmit chirp generation, frequency generation, up-conversion/down-conversion, modulation/demodulation and filtering
- digitization, data compression and formatting.
A digital chirp generator and selectable receive filter bandwidths allow an efficient use of on board storage capacity considering the ground range resolution dependence on the incidence angle. The radar signal is generated at base band by the chirp generator and up-converted to C-band within the SES. This signal is distributed to the high-power amplifiers inside the EFE TRMs via the beam-forming network of the SAS. Signal radiation and echo reception are performed with the same antenna using slotted waveguide radiators. When receiving, the echo signal is amplified by the low noise amplifiers inside the EFE TRMs and summed up using the same network as for transmit signal distribution. After filtering and down-conversion to base band inside the SES, the echo signal is digitized and formatted for recording. Flexible dynamic block adaptive quantization allows the efficient use of on-board storage and to minimize downlink times with negligible impacts on image noise.
The SES hardware comprises the following units:
• ICE (Integrated Central Electronics) unit
• MDFE (Mission Dependent Filter Equipment)
• TGU (Transmit Gain Unit)
The ICE unit is the principal module of the SES providing the radar with its core functionality, control and monitoring. The subsystem uses a fully digital design approach for both the derivation of the C-band chirped radar signal and the digital receiver which samples the echo signal at an IF close to base band. The ICE maintains and manages a database of operational parameters such as transmit pulse and beam characteristics for each swath of each mode, and timing characteristics like pulse repetition frequencies and window timings. The MDFE is passive, providing a set of RF filters for the Tx path (to control out-of-band transmissions) and for the Rx path (to limit out-of-band interference). The TGU provides the final RF amplification of the Tx pulse signal before sending it to the SAS. The TGU receives its own dedicated primary power supply from the platform. Switching the TGU on and off is performed by the ICE.
Figure 60: Photo of the SES device (image credit: EADS Astrium Ltd.)
To augment this design and provide mission variable compatibility, the SES also includes mission dependent units that comprise amplification and filtering to provide an ideal signal level and match to the antenna subsystem to be supported.
Figure 61: SES context diagram (image credit: EADS Astrium Ltd)
The SES configuration is implemented as a fully cold redundant pair of chains. The TGU being common to both chains only in as much as the two amplifier chains are mounted in a single physical equipment unit before the paths do combine within a passive hybrid device which in turn permits dual outputs to the antenna supplying both fore and aft antenna segments.
The ICE (Integrated Central Electronics) unit is the principal module of SES consisting in turn of highly-integrated modules (Figure 63). ICE is being produced at Astrium UK (Portsmouth). This equipment provides the radar with its core functionality, control and monitoring. The subsystem uses a fully digital design approach for both the derivation of the (up to 100 MHz) C-band chirped radar signal and the digital receiver which samples the echo signal at an IF close to baseband. With single up-conversion and down-conversion stages and data processing using efficient digital filtering and data compression algorithms it is anticipated that this equipment will provide a highly stable core electronics base for this new exciting Copernicus utility. 109)
The Astrium UK ICE design is aimed at providing not only a solution for the Sentinel-1 system but also aims to provide a modern solution for the complex electronics at the heart of radars and particularly that of a SAR. The architecture is designed for adaptability using the inherent flexibility of the digital approach. It is therefore able to adapt easily to the needs of different missions.
Figure 62: Configuration of SES (image credit: EADS Astrium Ltd.)
The ICE modular design makes use of the integrated RF and digital design technologies now commonly available. High speed ADC (Analog Digital Converter)) and DAC (Digital Analog Converter) components along with flexible design of digital processing through the use of large scale FPGAs and dedicated ASICs, as well as the use of MMIC (Modular Microwave Integrated Circuitry) has allowed the design to respond to the demands of the Sentinel-1 mission.
The design of ICE is comprised of the following elements:
• ICM (Instrument control Module): A Leon ll processor based module, developed by Syderal of Switzerland with:
- PROM for boot software and EEPROM for the application software and the radar characterization database
- Multiple interface formats allowing 1553B communication with the platform, SpaceWire for the internal modules (using the Atmel AT7910/SpW_10X SpaceWire Router ASIC) and CAN for external equipments TGU and SAS.
• Ty module: This RUAG designed and built module uses a direct digital synthesis chirp generation method at an IF of 150 MHz, with up-conversion in a single stage to the nominal 5.405 GHz center frequency to deliver the radars a fully programmable chirp transmission chain. This requires only a further amplification stage provided by the externally provided DAD designed TGU (Transmit Gain Unit) to drive the SAS (SAR Antenna Subsystem).
• Rx modules: The dual polarization approach required by the C-SAR instrument necessitates a pair of matched receive modules to be implemented within the ICE. The receive path is band filtered externally to the ICE by a MDFE (Mission Dependent Filter Equipment) provided by DAD of Finland prior to its input to the ICE Rx modules Here the signal is down-converted directly to an IF of 75 MHz before being digitized in the ADC which sample's at approx 300 Msamples. This in turn feeds the digital processing chain of a decimation filter followed by, compression and packetization stages before the output is piped to the on board mass memory via a Wizard link interface in a standard CCSDS format at 640 Mbit/s.
• TCM (Timing Control Module): TCM represents the timeline control element for the system. Implementing ECC program driven FPGA logic to provide the necessary timing waveforms required to define and control the within pulse precise timing relationships of all the required timing signals used by the instrument. These timing pulses and the PRI rate communication bus to the antenna are the means whereby the radar establishes the autonomous complex timeline of each mode acquisition with the absolute repeatability required to provide the synthetic aperture quality and the Interferometric property of the system data output.
• PCM (Power Control Modules): These modules are implemented so as to reduce the individual module voltage conversion effort and to reduce the power losses. These modules use modular common DC/DC converters designed by BLU Electronics to provide 3 voltage rails to all internal ICMs. However, It is to be noted that point of load regulation at module level is still expected for more user specific voltages.
• FDM (Frequency Distribution Module) and USO (Ultra Stable Clock): Using FOAMO (Foam Insulated Master Oscillator) of Astrium as the master clock, the FDM generates the timing reference frequencies used by all other signal modules in ICE. To maintain the highest level of phase stability, this unit also takes in the Tx LO (Local Oscillator) and creates from this the offset Rx down convertor LO for both Rx module channels.
Figure 64: Illustration of the modular configuration of ICE (image credit: EADS Astrium Ltd.)
The ICE equipment has a mass of 20.6 kg. The modules have been selected to be integrated into an equipment enclosure with a backplane wiring loom rather than a fixed motherboard interface plate. This approach allows greater flexibility for test and diagnosis as well as a mechanical flexibility that offers a simpler solution to the thermal challenges of the mission.
The low internal interface count which also allows this open loom approach is in part due to the use of the SpaceWire interconnect for control which has been implemented on the front face of the unit. This being so implemented to facilitate an ESA objective for the ICM module development aimed at further mission systems (Ref. 109).
Roll steering mode (Ref: 84): The roll steering mode of the spacecraft provides a continuous roll maneuver around orbit (similar to yaw steering in azimuth) compensating for the altitude variation such that it allows usage of a continuous PRF (Pulse Repetition Frequency) and a minimal number of different sample window lengths (SWLs) around the orbit. In addition, the update rate of the sampling window position around orbit is minimized (< 1 /2.5 min), which simplifies instrument operations significantly. Since the instrument can work with a single fixed beam for each swath/sub-swath over the complete orbit, also the number of elevation beams is minimized. The roll steering rate has been fixed to 1.6º/27 km altitude variation. The roll applied to the sensor attitude depends linearly on altitude and varies within the interval -0.8º (minimum sensor altitude) to 0.8º (maximum sensor altitude).
Figure 65: Variation of the roll angle along the orbit (image credit: ESA, TAS)
The attitude steering mode introduces an additional roll angle as a function of latitude to compensate changes in the satellite’s altitude around the orbit, hence maintaining a specific, quasi “constant”, slant range for each SAR imaging mode. This enables the use of a single PRF per swath or subswath around the orbit, except for SM-5 (i.e. different PRF for SM-5N and SM-5S), and a fixed set of constant elevation antenna beam patterns. 110) 111)
Figure 66 illustrates that for the minimum orbital height (693 km) the mechanical SAR antenna off-nadir angle is more shallow (30.25º) than it is for the maximum orbital height (726 km). In the latter case, the mechanical SAR antenna off-nadir angle is 28.65º.
SAS (SAR Antenna Subsystem):
SAS represents the sensor part of the C-SAR instrument and is an active phased array system with Tx and Rx gain and phase control distributed over the antenna area. These functions are provided by so called Transmit Receive Modules (TRMs) as part of the EFE (Electronic Frontend End) assemblies. The SAS is capable of performing rapid electronic beam steering, beam shaping, and also polarization selection. The dual polarized antenna allows at one time either transmission in one single, but selectable polarization (H or V) or simultaneous reception of both H and V polarization. 112) 113)
The SAS consists of 14 identical tiles (12.3 m x 0.84 m) in 5 deployable panels as shown in Figure 67. The electrical functions of the SAS comprise:
- signal radiation and reception
- distributed transmit signal high power amplification
- distributed receive signal low noise amplification with LNA protection
- signal and power distribution (corporate feed, power converter)
- phase and amplitude control including temperature compensation
- internal calibration loop
- deployment mechanisms, including hold down and release
- antenna mechanical structure.
The instrument is based on a deployable planar phased array antenna carrying TRMs allowing for horizontal and vertical polarizations. The dual polarized antenna allows either transmission in one single but selectable polarization (H or V) or, simultaneous reception of both H and V polarization, at any time. The C-SAR antenna comprises two wings, stowed on the platform's lateral panels during launch, which are deployed once in orbit. Each antenna wing consists of two antenna panels. An antenna panel consists in principle, of a panel frame and a number of antenna tiles. The SAS central panel comprises two antenna tiles, whereas the wing panels comprise three antenna tiles each. The complete antenna is symmetrical around the middle of the central panel.
The active phased array antenna is capable of performing rapid electronic beam steering, beam shaping and polarization selection, providing fast scanning in elevation and azimuth to cover the large range of incidence angles and to meet the image quality requirements for the TOPSAR mode. TRMs are arranged across the antenna such that, by adjusting the gain and phase of individual modules, the transmit and receive beams may be steered and shaped.
The SAS consists of 14 tiles with 20 dual-polarized sub-arrays on each tile. Each subarray is a dual-polarized unit with two parallel slotted resonant waveguides. The vertical polarization is excited by offset longitudinal slots in a ridge waveguide, while the horizontal polarization is generated by transverse narrow wall slots excited by inserted tilted wires.
A SAS tile is composed of 10 'Waveguide 4' assemblies (two vertically and two horizontally polarized waveguides), which form the smallest building block in the tile manufacturing. Each 'Waveguide 4'-assembly is exposed to a kind of RF-incoming / diagnostic inspection consisting of a passive return loss measurement followed by a measurement of the far-field azimuth pattern in a special anechoic test environment at Astrium GmbH.
Legend to Figure 68: The instrument comprises three RF networks: Tx network, RxH (H polarization) network and RxV (V polarization) network. During radar operation the Tx network carries the transmit RF signal and the RxH/RxV networks carry the echo signals. The dual polarized antenna allows transmission in one single but selectable polarization (H or V) and simultaneous reception of both H and V polarization.
The tile (size: ~ 0.87 m x 0.84 m) forms the smallest functional entity of the SAS, encompassing all functions necessary to ensure beam shaping / beam steering of the active phased array antenna. The SAS Tile is composed of 10 'Waveguide 4' assemblies and the associated electronics, namely:
- The RF Distribution Network
- 40 Transmit/Receive Modules (20 TRMs for HP & 20 TRMs for VP / supplier: Thales Alenia Space, Italy)
- 2 Tile Controller Units (TCUs)
- 2 Tile Power Supply Units (TPSUs)
allowing signal radiation and reception, distributed transmit signal high power amplification, distributed receive signal low noise amplification with LNA protection, signal and power distribution, phase and amplitude control including temperature compensation and internal calibration.
The CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic) waveguide radiator is along with the cross stiffeners the major structural element of a tile. All electronic boxes are either placed onto the rear side of the radiators (e.g. the EFEs) or attached to the inner side of the cross stiffeners (e.g. TCU and TPSU). The low loss CFRP slotted waveguides radiators together with the high performance EFE TRMs ensure to meet the stringent sensitivity requirement of -22 dB. The optimized sizing of the overall SAR antenna and its waveguide radiators ensure further that also the ambitious 2D distributed target ambiguity requirement (DTAR) of -22 dB can be met.
EFE is the main transmitting/receiving section of the Sentinel-1 antenna while 195 EFE are necessary to assure the full functionality of the SAR instrument. Each EFE has been optimized for the best trade-off between integration level and RF performances and is composed of four main sections: Power Supply card, Digital card, RF distribution section and the TRM section.
The EFE is composed of four main sections: Digital card, Power Supply card, RF distribution and the TRM (T/R Module) section. A functional scheme of the EFE architecture is shown in Figures 70 and 71.
The RF networks provide the EFEs with the Tx pulses, and collect the H and the V polarized echoes. On the tile, these networks form the EPDN (Elevation Plane Distribution Network) which is placed on top of the EFEs (Figure 69). Each network (Tx, RxH, RxV) of the EPDN consists of a 1:10 divider to supply the 10 EFEs. Short cables connect the outputs of the 1:10 dividers to the EFEs.
Table 10: Performance parameters of the C-SAR instrument in the various operational modes 114)
The EFE comprises several TRMs (Transmit/Receive Modules) and associated electronics. It represents the active part of the RF equipment of the antenna. The basic function of each EFE is:
• to transmit Tx pulses in one of two polarizations (either H or V) to the corresponding two radiator elements
• to receive the echoes from the two H and the two V radiator elements independently and simultaneously.
The EFE provides the capability to perform antenna beam steering and forming by electronic means:
• control phase setting in transmit
• control phase and gain settings in receive.
C-SAR instrument calibration:
In contrast to SAR systems already existing in C-band like ASAR/ENVISAT or RADARSAT-2, high demands on the radiometric accuracy are made for C-SAR on Sentinel-1. Thus, product quality is of paramount importance and the success or failure of the mission depends essentially on the method of calibrating the entire Sentinel-1 system in an efficient way. 115) 116) 117) 118) 119) 120)
The most important point with respect to the calibration of this flexible SAR system is the tight performance with an absolute radiometric accuracy of only 1 dB (3σ) in all operation modes. Never before has such a strong requirement (a few tenths of dB) been defined for a SAR system. - With respect to the duration of the Sentinel-1 commissioning phase of three months only, the number of passes and the selection of test sites have to be optimized versus cost and time effort. e.g. calibrating several beams and polarization modes with the same test site. The calibration strategy of Sentinel-1 is based on the experience derived from TerraSAR-X.
Calibration is the process of quantitatively defining the system response to known controlled signal inputs. Calibration tasks are executed throughout the mission to ensure the normalized radar cross-section and the phase of the individual pixels are provided with stability and accuracy. Calibration of the entire SENTINEL-1 system is critical to guaranteeing product quality for operational demands. The SAR system must perform within an absolute radiometric accuracy of only 1 dB in all operation modes. This is a higher radiometric accuracy than any other SAR mission before it.
Calibration can be divided into two forms:
• Internal calibration: Internal calibration provides an assessment of radar performance using internally generated calibrated signal sources, in particular from pre-flight testing.
• External calibration: External calibration makes use of ground targets of known backscatter coefficients to render an end-to-end calibration of the SAR system.
In addition to the commissioning of Sentinel-1B executed by ESA, an independent SAR system calibration will be performed by DLR. For this purpose, the complete calibration chain was developed and established by DLR, starting with an efficient calibration strategy, a detailed in-orbit calibration plan, the SW-tools for analyzing and evaluating all the measurements up to the calibration targets serving as accurate reference. 121)
Internal calibration uses calibration signals which are routed as closely as possible along the nominal signal path. The calibration signals experience the same gain and phase variations as the nominal measurement signals. The ground processing then evaluates the calibration signals to identify gain and phase changes and correct the acquired images accordingly.
Transmit power, receiver gain and antenna gain are subject to instrument noise due to temperature changes or other effects over time. Internal calibration provides corrections for changes in the transmit power and the electronics gain as well as validating the antenna model. The resulting calibration data are used in ground processing to correct image data.
Internal calibration also covers the signal phase. The overall phase of the echo signal depends on two major elements: measurement geometry and instrument internal phase stability. As the hardware cannot generally provide the required phase stability, it is a task of the internal calibration scheme to cover the internal phase variations by adequate measurements. All internal calibration measurements, either for gain or for phase, are used in ground processing to correct data products and achieve the required stability.
Internal calibration uses a PCC (Pulse-Coded Calibration) technique to embed a unique pulse code on a signal such that it can be identified and measured when embedded in other signals. This allows the amplitude and phase of individual signal paths to be measured while operating the complete antenna. The PCC technique is implemented by sending a series of coherent calibration pulses in parallel through the desired signal paths. The individual successive signals are multiplied by factors of +1 or -1. Factor -1 is implemented by adding a phase shift of 180°, while factor +1 means no additional phase. Each path is identified by a unique sequence.
The PCC technique can be applied if:
- the receiver detects the signals coherently
- the whole sequence is executed in a sufficiently short time such that the parameters to be measured are stationary
- the system is linear with respect to the individual signals.
The PCC technique can measure the signal paths via individual Transmit (TX) /Receive (RX) Modules (TRMs) or via groups of TRMs (either TX or RX paths, either polarization).
The average properties of rows or columns of TRMs can be measured by a short PCC sequence. The length of a PCC sequence is always a power of two. There are 20 rows of waveguides, therefore the PCC sequence has a minimum of 32 pulses. Although the 14 columns (14 tiles) could be measured by a PCC sequence of 16 pulses, it is assumed that a sequence length of 32 pulses is also used. All 20 rows are operated together, meaning the antenna is in a full operational state. The overall signal from all rows is received, digitized and packed into calibration packets. These packets are evaluated (on the ground) to determine the properties of the individual rows. The approach for measuring the average azimuth excitation coefficient is similar to the elevation pattern, using columns of TRMs instead of rows.
The PCC-32 measurements described above need approximately 129 pulses. Additional warm-up pulses may also be needed. Such a large number of calibration pulses represent a significant interruption in image generation when operated within the image acquisition of the stripmap mode. For intermediate calibration pulses in stripmap mode, and also for calibration pulses related to each sub-swath measurement in the ScanSAR modes, a shorter sequence is needed. The shortest possible PCC sequence is based on two measurements, however this procedure introduces PCC-inherent error contributions. These latter errors are to be expected, although they are significantly smaller than those due to leakage signals.
For the antenna model, the reference patterns of all beams are derived for radiometric correction of the SAR data. The active antenna of the SAR instrument allows a multitude of different antenna beams with their associated gain patterns. All these patterns are described by the mathematical antenna model which provides the antenna patterns as functions of the commanded amplitudes and phases within the front end EFEs and within the tile amplifiers. The quality of the patterns is ensured by the on-board temperature compensation controlled by the tile control units. The internal calibration signals measure the actual phases and amplitudes and allow verifying the correct function and performance of all included elements. The antenna model is established on-ground, based on pattern tests at various integration levels up to the complete antenna.
RF Characterization Mode:
The RF characterization mode is a self-standing mode and is not associated with the individual imaging data-takes. It is operated at least once per day during a convenient point within the long duration of wave mode.
The RF characterization mode verifies in-flight the correct function and characteristics of the individual TRMs. Operating it two or more times at different temperatures during the cool-down phases between the high dissipating imaging modes can provide in-orbit characterization versus temperature where necessary. The RF characterization mode performs measurements with internal signals and is designed to achieve a number of goals. The RF calibration mode will:
- cover all those measurements needed in-orbit but which are not required for each individual data-take
- provide data sets to assess the instrument health and performance as far as possible
- verify the correct function of the individual TRMs, both within the front-end and the tile amplifiers
- verify the excitation coefficients for the TX and RX patterns to ensure the validity of the antenna model.
This mode is based on the same measurement types as the internal calibration. The mode has to address the individual TRMs while operating the full antenna in representative thermal conditions and with nominal power consumption. This can be achieved using the PCC technique. As a standalone mode, it is not forced to use the signal parameters of a dedicated imaging mode, but instead an optimized set of parameters can be used. The calibration mode is to be operated for both TX polarizations. The receiver will measure both polarizations in any case.
Figure 72: In-orbit calibration plan for Sentinel-1 versus 12 days repeat cycles (image credit: (image credit: DLR, Ref. 116)
External calibration derives the calibration constant by measurement of corner reflector targets and homogeneous areas such as rainforest with exactly known backscatter coefficients. This is necessary as it will not generally be possible to know all parameters with sufficient accuracy prior to the in-flight measurements.
Figure 73: In-orbit external calibration (image credit: ESA)
External calibration comprises five steps as shown below.
1) Radiometric Calibration: Radiometric calibration is applied to correct for the bias of SAR data products. The required absolute calibration factor is derived by measuring the SAR system against reference point targets with well-known radar cross section. Due to the high demand on the radiometric accuracy of 1 dB (3σ) in all four operational modes, it is recommended to measure at least one beam of each mode against the SENTINEL-1 transponders deployed at different locations. Each selected beam will be measured during two passes (ascending and descending). Furthermore, two receive polarization combinations per operation mode are to be measured simultaneously. By measuring SENTINEL-1 against the three transponders for selected beams, the radiometric calibration can be performed within a limited number of repeat cycles. The absolute calibration factor of all other beams is then derived by applying the antenna model.
2) Antenna Model Verification: Antenna model verification ensures the provision of precise reference patterns of all operation modes and the gain offset between different beams. Verification of the antenna model is performed for selected beams, at least one with low, one with mid- and one with high incidence angle, all with the same polarization condition. In addition, some of the beams are selected for measuring the second polarization condition. Assuming acquisitions for each of the selected beams, using the receiver mode of the transponders and by using acquisitions over rainforest, antenna model verification can be performed within a few cycles.
3) Geometric Calibration: Geometric calibration is applied to assign the SAR data to the geographic location on the Earth's surface. Using well surveyed reference targets, the internal delay of the instrument and systematic azimuth shifts can be derived. For this purpose the acquired scenes are measured simultaneously against point targets deployed and precisely surveyed.
4) Antenna Pointing Determination: Antenna pointing determination is performed to achieve correct beam pointing of the antenna. The determination of the antenna pointing by the receiver mode of the transponders is performed using notch patterns in azimuth with different incidence angles (near, mid- and far). Using three transponders with a receiver function within one cycle (two passes) sufficient measurements can be acquired to derive the required accuracy. The appropriate antenna pattern is measured across the rainforest and using ground receivers.
5) Inter-Channel Phase Calibration: As the signal travels through different receive channels for H and V polarization, it may experience different gains, phase offsets and even different time delays. Inter-channel phase accuracy is calibrated using the SENTINEL-1 transponders that return the signal with H and V polarization components, and which therefore allow a direct phase comparison between H and V channels. The antenna model to be derived on the ground describes the antenna patterns with high accuracy. This antenna model is verified for a limited set of elevation beams via measurements over a homogeneous target, i.e. over rainforest. The azimuth beams will be measured using the receiver function of the SENTINEL-1 transponder.
Independent calibration verification:
In addition to the commissioning of Sentinel-1A executed by ESA, an independent verification of the system calibration will be executed for the first time by an external institution. For this purpose, the complete calibration chain was developed and established by DLR, starting with an efficient calibration concept, a detailed in-orbit calibration plan, the SW-tools for analyzing and evaluating all the measurements up to the calibration targets serving as accurate reference. 122)
DLR calibration facility: The Sentinel-1 calibration strategy requires a facility that is well-equipped with ground calibration hardware as well as software tools for analyzing and evaluating all the measurements. For this purpose, DLR/MRI (Microwave and Radar Institute) has been developed and established the following reliable and accurate ground equipment:
• Accurate and remote controlled ground targets like the DLR’s novel corner reflectors as depicted in Figure 74 and the novel transponders as depicted in Figure 75, precisely surveyed for geometric and radiometric calibration. Using the receiver unit of the transponder, the pointing and the pattern of the antenna in azimuth direction can be measured during an overflight.
• Different analysis and evaluation tools have been modified w.r.t. the Sentinel-1A characteristics, like:
- Internal Calibration Module for analyzing the stability of the instrument and deriving several instrument offsets like the channel imbalance.
- Antenna Characterization Module for deriving the actual pointing of Sentinel-1A and verifying the antenna model in-flight
- CALIX, a software tool for point target analysis and deriving the absolute calibration factor. Furthermore by geometric analysis of accurately surveyed targets the internal delay of the instrument and the dating of the SAR data can be determined.
- TAXI, the Institute’s experimental TanDEM-X interferometric processor, which will be used for interferometric analysis and for phase analysis of the TOPS mode of Sentinel-1A.
Test site selection: The next important point is concerned with the coverage of Sentinel-1A, because the coverage defines the number of visible measurements across a test site and drives consequently the schedule. Considering all aspects described before, the coverage of Sentinel-1A across the DLR calibration field in South Germany has been investigated for all beams being selected for in-flight measurements, as depicted in Figure 76 by the blue hatched swathes. The red framed area indicates a region covering all beams. Hence, deploying the transponders within this area, reference targets are available providing simultaneously a point target for both polarization channels of Sentinel-1A. The position of the corner reflectors is mainly driven by the edges of the swaths and the small vignettes of the wave mode (indicated by the black framed boxes).
Figure 76: Coverage of Sentinel-1A for all beams being selected for in-flight measurements (SM1, SM2, IW1, EW3, IW3, SM5, WV1) across the DLR calibration field deployed in South Germany (image credit: DLR)
Hence, the test site shown in Figure 76, composed of three transponders and three corner reflectors, enclosing an area of about 85 km x 20 km, is sufficient to cope with the tight requirements of commissioning Sentinel-1A, i.e all measurements required for calibrating the whole Sentinel-1A system can be performed within the commissioning phase of three months.
Copernicus Program Ground Segment
The ground segment is composed of the CGS (Core Ground Segment), the” Collaborative Ground Segment” and the Copernicus contributing missions' ground segments.
The Core ground segment monitors and controls the Sentinels spacecraft, ensures the measurement data acquisition, processing, archiving and dissemination to the final users. In addition, it is responsible for performing conflict-free mission planning according to a predefined operational scenario, and it ensures the quality of the data products and the performance of the space borne sensors by continuous monitoring, calibration and validation activities, guaranteeing the overall performance of the mission. 123)
Figure 77: Copernicus Ground Segment Architecture (image credit: ESA)
The Copernicus Ground Segment is complemented by the Sentinel Collaborative Ground Segment, which was introduced with the aim of exploiting the Sentinel missions even further. This entails additional elements for specialized solutions in different technological areas such as data acquisition, complementary production and dissemination, innovative tools and applications, and complementary support to calibration & validation activities.
For Copernicus operations, ESA has defined the concept and architecture for the Copernicus Core ground segment, consisting of a FOS (Flight Operations System) and a PDGS (Payload Data Ground Segment). Whereas the flight operations and the mission control of Sentinel-1 and -2 is performed by ESOC (ESA's European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany), the operations of Sentinel-3 and the Sentinel-4/-5 attached payloads to meteorological satellites is performed by EUMETSAT.
The EC (European Commission), supported by its agencies, is in charge to implement the Copernicus Services. The Commission is defined to be the owner and financing organization of Copernicus. The technical implementation is granted to other European organizations, namely ESA, EUMETSAT, EEA (European Environment Agency), ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) and others. - Complemented by ESA programs and national contributions, ESA has the responsibility to build and operate a dedicated space segment (Sentinels) and the ground segment of Copernicus. 124)
The EC has also defined an overall Copernicus data policy, declaring the Sentinel mission data free and open. 125) This decision is reflecting the experience made with similar missions in the US (e.g. Landsat) and the new possibilities of the Internet. It will stimulate the use of Earth observation data, but also may challenge commercial suppliers, selling data similar to those of the Sentinels. The Copernicus data policy is also based on the European INSPIRE (Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community) directive, which harmonizes the policy and electronic access to geographic information within Europe.
The majority of the Earth observation data for these services will come from a fleet of dedicated Copernicus satellites: the Sentinels. The features of the Copernicus Sentinel missions are depicted in Table 11. The series of satellites guarantees continuity of the ERS/ENVISAT missions and adds further features and parameters. Moreover, always two Sentinels of each series should be in orbit at any time, increasing the coverage for many applications. Applications and services will also benefit from a supply from other European national and commercial GMES Contributing Missions (GCM), managed in Copernicus by the ESA GSCDA (GMES Space Component Data Access) system.
The management of the payload data from the Sentinel missions is performed by the CGS (Core Ground Segment) defined by ESA. The CGS consists of a series of X-band data acquisition stations, which will capture all global Sentinel-1/-2/-3 mission data (Sentinel-4/-5 will use dedicated EUMETSAT data acquisition facilities for its next generation geostationary and polar orbiting satellites). These stations are designed for dumping all data recorded on the satellites on-board data recorders, as well as generating near real time products (1-3h after sensing) directly at the stations. The PDGS will also make use of the EDRS (European Data Relay Satellite). This PPP (Public Private Partnership) between ESA and ASTRIUM GmbH, operates a communication payload on two geostationary satellites. The primary link between the Sentinels and the geostationary satellites is a LCT (Laser Communication Terminal), built by Tesat Space, Backnang, Germany and provided as contribution-in-kind by Germany to the Sentinel-1 and -2 satellite series. The downlink from the geostationary satellites is performed via Ka-band to dedicated stations and to user terminals (Ref. 124). 126)
The acquired mission data is then transferred to Sentinel PACs (Processing and Archiving Centers). The PACs are designed to take specifically care for a certain Sentinel/instrument project. For security and redundancy reasons, each Sentinel data set is hosted by two PACs (EUMETSAT is assigned to act as the second PAC for the Sentinel-3 mission data). The PACs generate systematically base level products from all acquired data, archive them in a mission archive and electronically distribute them to the Copernicus users.
The products and performance of each Sentinel is monitored by MPCs (Mission Performance Centers). The entire data flow is managed by a PDMC (Payload Data Management Center), hosted by ESA at ESRIN, Frascati, Italy. The transport and circulation of the data is performed via terrestrial networks. The GMES WAN therefore connects all PDGS elements with links, having appropriate bandwidth.
In 2011, ESA started a series of procurement actions to select European providers to offer their facilities for the set-up and operations of the PDGS elements. Figure 78 displays the structure of the PDGS and the outcome of the selection of the providers.
Figure 78: Overall structure of Copernicus Payload Data Ground Segment for Sentinels-1 to -3 (Status May 2013), image credit: ESA (Ref. 124)
Within this competitive selection process, ESA has awarded the DLR/DFD ( German Remote Sensing Data Center) with the set-up and operations of the PACs for Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-3 (OLCI part). T-Systems, Germany, is assisting DLR in the network parts of the PACs. In addition and under separate procurement, DFD designs, builds and operates the payload data ground segment) for the Sentinel-5 Precursor mission.
High-level tasks of the DLR Sentinel PAC are:
- receive Sentinel data from CGSs via the GMES WAN
- ingest these data into the STA (Short-Term Archive) and MTA (Mid-Term Archive) of the Sentinel PGDS
- ingest these data in a LTA (Long-Term Archive) for a period of more than 7 years
- perform consolidation and re-assembly of level-0 data received from CGS facilities
- perform systematic and request-driven processing of Sentinel data to higher-level products
- host Sentinel data products within a layered architecture of on-line dissemination elements that will facilitate the direct access of end-users via public networks
- share and exchange any locally processed data with a 2nd partner PAC for the purpose of redundancy.
According to the GSC (GMES Space Component) operations concept, the Sentinel PDGS will become operationally embedded in the GSCDA (GMES Space Component Data Access) System that ESA implements in support of data access to GMES/Copernicus Service Projects and their users.
Figure 79: Overall structure of the Sentinel-1 (S1) and Sentinel-3-OLCI PACs at DFD in Oberpfaffenhofen (image credit: DLR)
Sentinel-5P: The Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite will deliver a key set of atmospheric composition, cloud and aerosol data products for air quality and climate applications. The sensing instrument TROPOMI together with the operational level 1 and level 2 processors will bring a significant improvement in the precision as well as temporal and spatial resolution of derived atmospheric constituents. Sentinel-5 Precursor is planned for launch in 2016.
For the Sentinel-5P mission, DLR/DFD was selected by ESA for the development and operation of the entire PDGS (Payload Data Ground Segment), which covers the whole chain of payload data handling on ground: data reception, processing, archiving, near-real-time and offline delivery to end users. In addition, DLR/IMF (Institut für Methodik der Fernerkundung - Remote Sensing Technology Institute) was selected for the development of retrieval algorithms and operational processors for a number of key atmospheric trace gases and cloud products.
Sentinel-5P will continue the strong DFD heritage on development/operations of processors and ground segments for atmospheric missions started with GOME-1/ERS-2, SCIAMACHY/ENVISAT, and GOME-2 on the MetOp series. The Sentinel-5P PDGS - as well as the LTA for Sentinel-1 and Sentinel 3 OCLI - will be based on the DFD development of DIMS (Data and Information Management System). DIMS will be configured for the Sentinel 5P workflows and mission specific extensions for the demanding throughput and storage requirements (Ref. 124).
In summary, DLR/DFD is involved in the Core and collaborative ground segment of the Copernicus program. It has been developing PDGS (Payload Data Ground Segment) elements and will operate PACs (Processing and Archiving Centers) for Sentinels and national data acquisition stations, both in X-band and using EDRS acquisition services.
Sentinel-1 FOS (Flight Operations Segment)
The main responsibilities of the FOS at ESA encompass satellite monitoring and control, including execution of all platform activities and the commanding of the payload schedules. The principal components of the FOS are (Ref. 126): 127)
1) The Ground Station and Communications Network, which performs TT&C (Telemetry, Tracking and Commanding) operations within the S-band frequency. A single S-band ground station will be used throughout all mission phases, complemented by additional TT&C stations as launch and early operations (LEOP) and backup stations.
2) The FOCC (Flight Operations Control Center), which includes:
• the Sentinel Mission Control System, which supports telecommand coding and transfer and housekeeping telemetry (HKTM) data archiving and processing
• the Sentinel Mission Planning System which supports command request handling, the planning and scheduling of satellite operations and the scheduling of payload operations as prepared by the PDGS Mission Planning System
• the specific Sentinel Satellite Simulators, which support procedure validation, operator training and the simulation campaign before each major phase of the mission
• the Sentinel Flight Dynamics System, which supports all activities related to attitude and orbit determination and prediction, the preparation of slew and orbit maneuvers, satellite dynamics evaluation and navigation
• The Sentinel Key Management Facilities, which support the management of the telecommand security functions.
3) A General Purpose Communication Network, which provides the services for exchanging data with any other external system during all mission phases.
Figure 80: Simplified view of the Sentinel-1 Ground Segment (image credit: Astrium SAS)
Figure 81: Overall Layout of the Sentinel-1 Core PDGS (image credit: Astrium SAS)
The selected geographical locations and operators for the Sentinel-1 PDGS centers are (Ref. 126):
• KSAT for X-band reception (CGS) in Svalbard (Norway) and Alaska
• INTA for X-band reception in Maspalomas (Spain)
• E-Geos for X-band reception in Matera (Italy)
• Astrium Services for the PAC (Processing and Archiving Center) in Farnborough (UK)
• DLR for the PAC in Oberpfaffenhofen (Germany)
• CLS for the MPC (Mission Performance Center) operations in Brest (France).
• PDMC (Payload Data Management Center) will be located at ESRIN and be operated by the European Space Agency.
• The POD (Precise Orbit Determination) service will be provided by GMV (Spain).
Figure 82: Illustration of Sentinel-1 ground segment configuration (image credit: ESA) 128)
CPOD (Copernicus Precise Orbit Determination) Service
The CPOD service is part of the PDGS (Payload Data Ground Segment) of the Sentinel missions. A GMV-led consortium of Spain is operating the CPOD being in charge of generating precise orbital products and auxiliary data files for their use as part of the processing chains of the respective Sentinel PDGS. 129)
Figure 83 shows the different elements that interact with the CPOD service. On top we have the Sentinels satellites, all of them with two GPS Receivers on-board (Sentinel-3 also has a LRR and DORIS). The raw L0 data is downloaded at least once per orbit to one of the Ground Stations used (particularly Svalbard, but also Maspalomas and Matera are used). The raw L0 data that contains the GPS and attitude data is circulated to the Sentinels PDGS and from there it is made available to the CPOD Service Center, which will generate orbital products with different timelines.
The first three Sentinel missions require orbital products in NRT (Near Real Time), with latencies as low as 30 minutes, in STC (Short Time Critical), with latencies of 1.5 days and in NTC (Non-time Critical) with latencies of 20-30 days. The accuracy requirements are very challenging, targeting 5 cm in 3D for Sentinel-1 and 2-3 cm in radial direction for Sentinel-3.
Table 12: Summary of timeliness and accuracy requirements 130)
The CPOD Service has been developed and it is being operated by a GMV-led consortium with a system running at GMV premises to provide orbital products for the Sentinel missions with different timeliness: NRT, STC , NTC and reprocessing REP. Additionally the Sentinel-3 POD IPF (Instrument Processing Facility), a software package developed as part of the CPOD Service, will run at the Sentinel-3 PDGS (on both, the Marine Center and Core Ground Station) generating NRT orbital products for the Sentinel-3 mission.
The accuracy of the orbital products is being assessed by a number of external validation institutions, all of them being part of the Copernicus POD QWG (Quality Working Group). The main purpose of the Copernicus POD QWG is to monitor the performance of the operational POD products (both the orbit products as well as the input tracking data) and to define potential and future enhancements to the orbit solutions.
The different Sentinel FOSs (Flight Operation Segments) provide orbital products (restituted and predicted) plus maneuver and mass history information. CNES provides also orbital products and DORIS data for Sentinel-3, and it receives GPS RINEX (Receiver Independent Exchange Format) files from the CPOD Service Center.
Veripos Ltd is the source of accurate GPS orbits and clocks for NRT and STC latencies and IGS for NTC and REP latencies. The CPOD also has an in-house back-up of Veripos based on magicGNSS, which provides NRT GPS orbits and clocks. For Sentinel-3, ILRS (International Laser Ranging Service) and DORIS data will also be used. Finally, the CPOD Service interacts with the CPOD QWG and a number of external validation centers.
The Copernicus POD Service has been developed and it is operated by GMV, but it interacts with different entities, both public and private, that act as clients, users and subcontractors. Following are the current main members of the Copernicus POD Service:
- ESA/ESRIN (European Space Research Institute) Frascati, Italy. This center leads the development of the different PGDSs, and in particular, the Sentinel-1 and -2 PDGS are located here.
- ESA/ESOC (European Space Operation Center), Darmstadt, Germany. This center hosts the FOS (Flight Operations Segment) of Sentinel-1, -2, and -3 missions during the commissioning phase and also during the Routine Operation phase except for Sentinel-3 mission, which is handed over to EUMETSAT.
- EUMETSAT (European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites), Darmstadt, Germany. This center hosts the FOS ( Flight Operations Segment) of Sentinel-3 mission during the Routine Operation Phase, and also the so-called Marine Center PDGS of Sentinel-3.
- CNES (Centre National d'Études Spatiales), Toulouse, France provides accurate orbits and platform data files for the Sentinel-3 mission. CNES has also contributed with the DORIS instrument, and as so, it also provides RINEX DORIS files to the Copernicus POD Service.
- GMV Innovating Solutions is the prime of the Copernicus POD Service. It has developed and it is operating the Service from its headquarters in Tres Cantos, near Madrid (Spain). It is responsible also of the overall management and the evolutions of the system.
- POSITIM UG provides expertise in the LEO POD field, prototypes improvements in algorithms and manages, on behalf of ESA/GMV, the Quality Working Group.
- DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt) Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany provides expertise in the LEO POD and GNSS fields. Additionally, it contributes with orbital products for external validation of products.
- TUM (Technische Universität München) provides expertise in the LEO POD field. Additionally, it contributes with orbital products for external validation of products.
- AIUB (Astronomisches Institut, Universität Bern), Bern, Switzerland contributes with orbital products for external validation of products.
- TU Delft (Technische Universiteit Delft), Delft, The Netherlands contributes with orbital products for external validation of products.
- VERIPOS Ltd, Aberdeen, UK is the provider of accurate GPS orbits and clocks in NRT and STC timeliness for it use in the GNSS POD processing.
There are two places where the operational orbits are computed. The so-called CPOD Service Center, located in GMV's premises, is in charge of computing all orbital products of Sentinel-1 and -2 and all STC and NTC products of Sentinel-3. The Sentinel-3 POD IPF (Instrument Processing Facility) is in charge of computing the Sentinel-3 NRT orbital products and it will be running at two locations, the Marine center (located in EUMETSAT, Darmstadt) and the Core Ground Station (located in Svalbard).
Orbital accuracy results:
• Sentinel-1A was launched on April 3, 2014. After 6 months of commissioning, the CPOD Service started the ROP (Routine Operation Phase) in October 2014. Since then, every four months the quality of the service is assessed, including the accuracy of the orbital products. For this, a specific period of time is selected for re-processing by the external validation institutions (i.e. AIUB, DLR, ESOC, TU Delft and TUM). This exercise has been performed twice since the beginning of the ROP phase.
• Sentinel-2A was launched on June, 23, 2015. The commissioning phase is expected to finish by mid/end October 2015, so the ROP (Routine Operation Phase) is expected to begin in November 2015. During the commissioning phase the orbit accuracy has been assessed by the same means used with Sentinel-1A, selecting a period of time to be re-processed by the external validation institutions (Ref. 129).
In the case of Sentinel-1A, the institutions compute offline accurate orbits and provide them to GMV for cross-comparison. It has been shown that systematically the accuracy requirements are fulfilled without major problems. Figure 84 shows the results of the last comparison campaign of January 2016; it shows the 3D RMS per day, during 10 days in January 2016, between the operational Sentinel-1 NTC solution (CPOD) and the daily solutions provided by each institution. Additionally, there is a combined solution (COMB) computed as a weighted average of all individual solutions. It can be seen that the differences are systematically below the required 5 cm (Ref. 130).
In addition, all NRT and NTC products are compared routinely against an offline ESOC solution (which used the same POD SW, NAPEOS, but of a different version and using different configuration and inputs). The following plots (Figures 85 and 86) show the differences with respect to ESOC from October 2015 to January 2016, where it can be seen that systematically the differences are well below the threshold. The cases above the threshold are typically due to maneuvers and data gaps.
In the case of Sentinel-2A, the accuracy results are similar to those of Sentinel-1A. Figure 87 shows the results of the last comparison campaign of January 2016; it shows the 3D RMS per day, during 10 days in January 2016, between the operational Sentinel-2 NTC solution (CPOD) and the daily solutions provided by each institution. Additionally there is a combined solution (COMB) computed as a weighted average of all individual solution. It can be seen that the differences are systematically below 5 cm, like in the case of Sentinel-1A.
Figure 87: Sentinel-2A orbit comparisons (3D RMS; cm) between CPOD and external solutions (image credit: GMV, Ref. 130)
Copernicus / Sentinels EDRS system operations:
EDRS (European Data Relay Satellite) will provide a data relay service to Sentinel-1 and -2 and initially is required to support 4 Sentinels simultaneously. Each Sentinel will communicate with a geostationary EDRS satellite via an optical laser link. The EDRS GEO satellite will relay the data to the ground via a Ka-band link. Optionally, the Ka-band downlink is planned to be encrypted, e.g. in support to security relevant applications. Two EDRS geo-stationary satellites are currently planned, providing in-orbit redundancy to the Sentinels. 131)
EDRS will provide the same data at the ground station interface as is available at the input to the OCP (Optical Communications Payload) on-board the satellites, using the same interface as the X-band downlink. The EDRS transparently adapts the Sentinels data rate and format to the internal EDRS rate and formats, e.g. EDRS operates at bit rates of 600 Mbit/s and higher.
With EDRS, instrument data is directly down-linked via data relay to processing and archiving centers, while other data continues to be received at X-band ground stations. The allocation of the data to downlink via X-band or EDRS is handled as part of the Sentinel mission planning system and will take into account the visibility zones of the X-band station network and requirements such as timeliness of data.
Figure 88: Sentinel missions - EDRS interfaces (image credit: ESA)
Copernicus / Sentinel data policy:
The principles of the Sentinel data policy, jointly established by EC and ESA, are based on a full and open access to the data:
• anybody can access acquired Sentinel data; in particular, no difference is made between public, commercial and scientific use and in between European or non-European users (on a best effort basis, taking into consideration technical and financial constraints);
• the licenses for the Sentinel data itself are free of charge;
• the Sentinel data will be made available to the users via a "generic" online access mode, free of charge. "Generic" online access is subject to a user registration process and to the acceptation of generic terms and conditions;
Following registration, the user will have the possibility to immediately download a test data set that simulates the data products that will be generated by Sentinel-1. Following launch, registered users will be granted early access to Sentinel-1 data samples, even before the full operational qualification of the products is completed.
Registration is open to all users via simple on-line self-registration accessible via the Sentinel Data Hub. 132)
• additional access modes and the delivery of additional products will be tailored to specific user needs, and therefore subject to tailored conditions;
• in the event security restrictions apply to specific Sentinel data affecting data availability or timeliness, specific operational procedures will be activated.
Sentinel-1 operational products:
• Level-0 products: Compressed, unprocessed instrument source packets, with additional annotations and auxiliary information to support the processing. 138)
• Level-1 products:
- Level-1 Slant-Range Single-Look Complex Products (SLC): Focused data in slant-range geometry, single look, containing phase and amplitude information.
- Level-1 Ground Range Detected Geo-referenced Products (GRD): Focused data projected to ground range, detected and multi-looked. Data is projected to ground range using an Earth ellipsoid model, maintaining the original satellite path direction and including complete geo-reference information.
• Level-2 Ocean products: Ocean wind field, swell wave spectra and surface currents information as derived from SAR data.
Table 13: Sentinel-1 Operational products access policy
Table 14: Planned operational ESA Sentinel-1 products - L1 characteristics 139)
• For GRD (Ground Range Detected) products, the resolution corresponds to the mid range value at mid orbit altitude, averaged over all swaths.
• For SLC (Slant-Range Single-Look Complex) products SM/IW/EW products, the resolution and pixel spacing are provided from lowest to highest incidence angle. For SLC WV products, the resolution and pixel spacing are provided for beams WV1and WV2.
• For SLC SM/IW/EW products, the resolution and pixel spacing are provided from lowest to highest incidence angle. For SLC WV products, the resolution and pixel spacing are provided for beams WV1and WV2.
In the context of the Copernicus program, ESA is conducting a number of coordinated preparatory activities (studies, campaigns, etc.) to demonstrate/validate the observation concepts (as well as many other system aspects) that are being planned for the various Sentinel missions. The following campaigns are in particular dedicated in support of Sentinel-1 (and -2, AgriSAR) applications.
The AgriSAR 2009 campaign of ESA took place in April 2009. The objective is to evaluate how frequent multi-polarization acquisitions provided by Sentinel-1 will improve applications such as land-cover mapping and crop monitoring. To accomplish this ambitious task, ESA has asked MDA Geospatial Services to acquire multi-temporal, quad-polarization RADARSAT-2 imagery throughout the 2009 growing season over three test sites. The chosen sites are located in Flevoland in the Netherlands, Barrax in Spain and Indian Head in mid-west Canada.
In addition to the contribution from MDA Geospatial Services, the campaign included also a number of European and Canadian scientists to help with ground activities. These activities included the collection and analysis of information about land cover, crop type, crop condition and other parameters such as soil moisture. Of particular interest were the new algorithms and methods required to extract land-cover information from a dense temporal series of SAR images and follow how the crops develop. 140)
Figure 89: The color composite of a RADARSAT-2 polarimetric radar image acquired over the Flevoland test site in the Netherlands on April 4, 2009 (image credit: ESA)
Figure 90: Polarimetric RADARSAT-2 SAR image of the Barrax test site in Spain on April 9, 2009 (image credit: ESA)
The IceSAR airborne campaign (3 weeks in March 2007), which took place near Longyearbyen in Svalbard (Norway), was conducted by AWI (Alfred Wegner Institut), Bremerhaven, DLR/HR (Microwave and Radar Institute), and ESA. The radar configuration consisted of a C-band instrument with VV and VH polarizations, very similar to the future Sentinel-1 sensor. The C-band SAR was flown on the DO-228 aircraft of DLR (E-SAR instrument with C- and X-band capability). In addition, the Polar-2 aircraft of AWI was flown carrying the AWI infrared line scanner during the IceSAR campaign in coordination with the radar aircraft. 141) 142)
Figure 91: An airborne SAR sea-ice image taken over Storfjorden, Svalbard on March, 16, 2007 (image credit: ESA)
The AgriSAR campaign of ESA took place in the summer of 2006 (Apr. 18 - Aug. 2, 2006) - representing an ambitious large-scale attempt to assess the performance of the Sentinel-1 (C-band SAR) and Sentinel-2 (Optical Multispectral) for land applications. The campaign was unique in scope and scale representing frequent airborne SAR coverage during the entire crop-growing season, from sowing to harvest. 143) 144) 145)
The main test site was Demmin (Durable Environmental Multidisciplinary Monitoring Information Network), an agricultural site located in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in North-East Germany, approximately 150 km north of Berlin. Main crop types in the area are winter wheat, barley, maize, rape and sugar beet. The DLR (German Aerospace Center) E-SAR system was flown over the Demmin test site more than 14 times between the months of April and July. Weekly in-situ measurements were taken on the ground in selected fields throughout the same period.
In addition to SAR coverage, optical data using the Canadian CASI instrument from ITRES Research and the Spanish AHS from the National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA), were acquired during critical phases of the growing season in June and July. The June acquisitions were extended to include a forest and grassland site in the central Netherlands, used by the EU EAGLE project.
In total, over 15 research institutes from Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, Britain, Canada and Denmark participated in the campaign.
The Sentinel series:
Provides data continuity for:
Validation provided by:
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The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: ”Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors” (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (email@example.com).