Novel Operational Scenarios for the Next-Generation Earth Observation Satellites Supporting On-Board Processing for Rapid Civil Alerts

S. Cornara, S. Tonetti, M. Kerr, G. Vicario de Miguel,

DEIMOS Space S.L.U., Ronda de Poniente 19, Ed. FITENI VI, Portal 2, 2º, 28760 Tres Cantos – Madrid, Spain,
{stefania.cornara, stefania.tonetti, murray.kerr, gonzalo.vicario}

S. Fraile, M. Díez,

Deimos Imaging S.L.U., Spain,,

H. Breit, S. Wiehle,

Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt e.V., Germany,,

C. Marcos Martín,

Agencia Estatal de Meteorología, Spain,

C. Solimini
Formerly at DEIMOS Space S.L.U., Tres Cantos – Madrid, Spain


The growing number of planned Earth Observation (EO) satellites, together with the increase in payload resolution and swath, brings to the fore the generation of unprecedented volumes of data that need to be downloaded, processed and distributed with low latency. This creates a severe bottleneck problem, which overloads operations and ground infrastructure, communications to ground, and hampers the provision of EO products to the End User with the required performances. The EO-ALERT project (, an H2020 European Union research activity led by DEIMOS Space, proposes the definition of next-generation EO missions by developing an on-board high-speed EO data 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. EO-ALERT achieves, globally, latencies below 5 minutes for EO products delivery, achieving latencies below 1 minute in some scenarios.

Considering the innovative on-board processing chain implemented in the EO-ALERT project, the end users consider that the corresponding technology advances can enable very competitive and effective applications in the latency of sensitive scenarios, such as maritime surveillance and disaster management, especially to cope with extreme weather events and the expected needs to detect, monitor and mitigate the effects of climate change. These application scenarios require a high responsiveness to events, reducing the response time to a few hours, or even to minutes, after an emergency situation arises.

This paper presents the definition of the user requirements for the EO-ALERT EO data processing chain, based on the identified market needs and application scenarios, a high-level mission analysis and concept of operations for the identified scenarios and lastly the experimental campaign carried out in July 2020 to collect validation data.

The European EO missions that have been selected to develop and test the on-board data processing chain and the new operations concepts are: TerraSAR-X satellite mission embarking an X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instrument; the Very High-Resolution (VHR) optical satellite Deimos-2, for the ship detection scenario; the SEVIRI sensor on board Meteosat Second Generation satellite, for the meteorological scenario. The experimental campaign is intended to validate the technology performances in the experiment scenarios collecting the necessary in-situ data at the same time that remote sensing images are acquired by the selected assets on the region of interest, so as to provide a holistic knowledge of the monitored area and data for validation of the processing chain performances.

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