Earth Observation from space


Virtually all of Australia’s EO capabilities are supplied by other nations or international companies. Australia’s dependence on these satellites, the data they provide and the services that they support is growing rapidly and covers a very broad range of needs, both civilian and defence. Australia has developed a world class satellite imagery analytics and applications capability but has only nascent capability in the upstream supply chain areas of satellite and sensor design, build, launch, task and control. Australia is therefore highly dependent on the rest of the world to provide for its immediate and long-term needs.


Australia currently relies on about 20-25 remote sensing satellites for its imagery and sensing needs from space. None of these are Australian owned. With the nascent but growing space start-up industry in Australia now comprising at least 80 companies and the Australia SME sector set for substantial growth there is the opportunity to facilitate a coordinated dual use (civilian – defence) approach to the strategic design and deployment of a constellation of satellites that are built up over the next decade to service the high priority, sovereign needs of Australia.

For example, what is the optimum combination of optical, Near- Infra red (NIR), mid infra-red (MIR) for fire detection and monitoring both now, based on current capabilities, and over the next decade? Continuous monitoring of fires, at operational resolutions, inter-jurisdictionally and nation-wide during catastrophic fire seasons has proven a challenge for Australia. Could this be addressed by a geo-stationary satellite with optical, NIR, MIR and hyperspectral capabilities, with sensor(s) of sufficient ground resolution and signal to noise ratios, coupled with next generation on-board and terrestrial analytics? This is but one of many examples that can be put forward to illustrate the opportunity before Australia of moving from an opportunistic user of the satellites that others choose to launch and operate to a nation of strategic, long term intent.


1. Australia to investigate the potential for a national approach to the long-term development and deployment of a constellation of satellites, and their supporting systems, to service high priority needs in both the civilian and defence sectors, including examining the role Australia could play at all stages of the space and spatial supply chain. This investigation could usefully be undertaken by a working group drawn from Defence, the Australian Space Agency, CSIRO, Geoscience Australia, SIAA, SIBA-GITA, EOA and SmartSat CRC