M. Kerr(1), S. Cornara(1), A. Latorre(1), S. Tonetti(1), A. Fiengo(1), T. Guardabrazo(1), J. I. Bravo(1), D. Velotto(2), M. Eineder(2), S. Jacobsen(2), H. Breit(2), O. Koudelka(3), F. Teschl(3), E. Magli(4), T. Bianchi(4), R. Freddi(5), M. Benetti(5), R. Fabrizi(6), S. Fraile(6), C. Marcos(7)

(1)DEIMOS Space S.L.U., Tres Cantos – Madrid, Spain, Email:
{murray.kerr, stefania.cornara, antonio.latorre, stefania.tonetti, aniello.fiengo, tomas-alberto.guardabrazo, juan-ignacio.bravo}@deimos-space.com
(2)Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V., Germany, Emal:
{domenico.velotto, michael.eineder, sven.jacobsen, helko.breit}@dlr.de
(3)Technische Universität Graz, Graz, Austria, Email: koudelka@tugraz.at, franz.teschl@tugraz.at
(4)Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Italy, Email: enrico.magli@polito.it, tiziano.bianchi@polito.it
(5)OHB Italia Spa, Milan, Italy, Email: rfreddi@cgspace.it, mbenetti@cgspace.it
(6)Deimos Imaging S.L.U., Spain, Email: roberto.fabrizi@deimos-imaging.com, silvia.fraile@deimos-imaging.com
(7)Agencia Estatal de Meteorología, Spain, Email: cmarcosm@aemet.es


Earth observation (EO) data delivered by remote sensing satellites provide a basic service to society, with great benefits to the civilian. The data is nowadays ubiquitously used throughout society for a range of diverse applications, such as environment and resource monitoring, emergency management and civilian security.

Over the past 50 years, the EO data chain that has been mastered involves acquisition process of sensor data on-board the satellite, its compression and storage on-board, and its transfer to ground by a variety of communication means, for later processing on ground and the generation of the downstream EO image products.

While the market is growing, the classical EO data chain generates a severe bottleneck problem, given the very large amount of EO raw data generated on-board the satellite that must be transferred to ground, slowing down the EO product availability, increasing latency, and hampering applications to grow in accordance with the increased User Demand for EO products.

This paper provides an overview of the EO-ALERT project, an H2020 European Union research activity that addresses the challenge of a “high speed data chain” and the need for increased EO data chain throughput. EO-ALERT proposes the definition and development of the next-generation EO data and processing chain, based on a novel flight segment architecture that moves optimised key EO data processing elements from the ground segment to on-board the satellite. The objective is to deliver the EO products to the end user with very low latency for increased throughput.

Achieving this goal poses great challenges on the flight system, to be addressed through a combination of innovations in the on-board elements of the data chain and the communications link. As such, this goal necessitates innovation in several critical technological areas; namely on-board reconfigurable data handling, on-board image generation, on-board image processing, high-speed on-board avionics, on-board data compression and reconfigurable high data rate communication links to ground. Such innovations will also provide capabilities for the optimisation of the classical EO data chain towards a data chain with greatly improved data throughput.

The paper will present preliminary project results on the above technological areas, with particular attention to the development of a flexible and reconfigurable data handling architecture integrating different on-board technologies for both SAR and optical sensor data, including image generation, image processing for rapid alerts, joint compression and encryption algorithms. The paper will also discuss possible applications of the envisioned high-speed data chain and introduce open issues regarding the implementation of the proposed architecture, from the use of dedicated hardware platforms to COTS-based implementations. The aim is to raise interest in this ambitious project from the on-board data compression and processing community, share their views on the different technological challenges, and foster fruitful discussions towards new ideas and solutions.

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