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DMCii pioneers new framework for satellite imaging quality control

Remote sensing solution provider DMCii’s Chief Scientist, Dr Steve Mackin, has pioneered a new approach for deriving quality control indicators from Disaster Monitoring Constellation data.

The new framework, which is being implemented by DMCii, holds great potential for quality control and consistency in multi-source imaging projects such as the European Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES).

Dr Mackin commented: “This has never been done before and its application holds great potential for projects where imaging is sourced from multiple providers and satellites. As a GMES contributor, DMCii has begun implementing this new quality control framework within the Disaster Monitoring Constellation to validate it for wider use.”

The European Space Agency (ESA) has expressed interest in the techniques that Dr Mackin presented in his role as one of the UK’s representatives in the Working Group for Constellation Calibration on the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS). The first dedicated GMES satellites, Sentinel 2 and Sentinel 3, will demonstrate (at least in part) the new framework as a quality control measure for GMES.

From research conducted with the National Physics Laboratory it was clear that making extra quality information available to describe imaging products would be of significant benefit to imaging experts. The new framework provides a clearer quality statement with defined error budgets at each stage and hence identifies low quality data before it can be issued. The traceability of data is also improved, enabling the rapid identification of the processing area at fault.

Dr Mackin states that the proposed methodology holds many benefits for imaging users: “It makes sense for any customer to request standardized quality control information from imaging suppliers. Only then can you be sure of the quality of your end product and its fitness for purpose. It also allows users to compare data across image providers in a fast and simple manner and determine who meets the user’s requirements at the lowest cost – hence saving time and money for the end-user”.

The Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) is a unique cooperation between partners that own satellites and share their data. DMCii coordinates the constellation to provide high quality commercial imaging services and rapid disaster monitoring programmes. The DMC’s imaging capacity is set to grow to more than 10 million sq km per day by the end of 2008 with the addition of new satellites, UK-DMC2 and Deimos-1, which share a 20metre 600km swath imaging capability. The UK-DMC2 satellite will also offer a direct downlink service to X-band groundstations.

Last year, DMCii imaged 38 European countries for GMES in the 6 months between April and October 2007 as a GMES contributing mission. DMCii delivered precisely positioned data in each national map projection. This was the first time that the whole of Europe had been successfully imaged at high resolution in a single year.

The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme is led by the European Commission with the aim of delivering environment and security services. It is the European response to the ever-increasing demands of effective environmental policies. GMES is the European contribution to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).

Robin Wolstenholme | alfa
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