Downloading of COSMO-SkyMed constellation images has never been so easy

01 December 2023

To improve access to and distribution of national satellite data to support the development of services and applications addressing the requirements of dual users (both public and private), the Italian Space Agency (ASI), in accordance with its institutional mandate and in line with the guidelines issued by the Interministerial Committee for Space and Aerospace Research Policies ( Comint) as well as the objectives of the activities assigned to ASI under the PNRR, has planned to develop new components of the ground segment systems for data access. The new MapItaly Portal makes this happen.

MapItaly is a systematic acquisition program of COSMO-SkyMed images providing a full coverage of the entire Italian peninsula and main islands. Established by ASI and Civil Protection Department with the operational support of e-GEOS, MapItaly has been running since 2009. Since the beginning of the program, COSMO-SkyMed images of the national territory have been acquired with the aim of meeting and responding to the needs of the institutional community and commercial users alike to ensure access to a historical, consistent, and updated archive of SAR data to be used for terrain analysis and infrastructure monitoring applications, emergency management and land recovery activities. The MapItaly program has collected over 100,000 StripMap HIMAGE image frames that are now stored in the COSMO-SkyMed archive made available to national users.

The COSMO-SkyMed Constellation, which is owned by ASI and the Italian Ministry of Defense, and has been in orbit since 2007, and is the flagship mission for the Earth Observation sector. Today the COSMO-SkyMed constellation consists of five in-orbit and operational satellites, 3 of which are first-generation satellites and 2 are second-generation, the advanced version of the first system. They will soon be joined by 2 additional satellites. COSMO-SkyMed generates invaluable data that are processed for a wide range of applications and made available by ASI and e-Geos. Recently the data have been used to control and monitor the drought affecting the Po River, the floods in Emilia, and for activities designed to support the conservation of buildings and the country’s archaeological heritage.

The distinctive feature of COSMO-SkyMed is the ability to collect radar data under any weather condition and to see through clouds. Therefore, Earth observation is no longer limited by adverse weather or the absence of sunlight and detailed data can be collected during day and night. In addition, the radar can detect details that would be invisible to traditional optical instruments, making it an ideal tool for environmental monitoring, emergency management, archaeological heritage conservation, and many other applications.

e-GEOS, a company made up of Telespazio (80%) and ASI (20%), was recently awarded the creation of the MapItaly Portal, an ambitious project that is revolutionizing the collection and analysis of geospatial data in Italy.

The Portal, which complements COSMO-SkyMed First and Second Generation Ground Segment, provides direct access to the vast amounts of images that are part of the MapItaly acquisition program, quickly and easily.

Thanks to the Graphical User Interface (GUI), whose design is based on user experience, the Portal can be accessed via two modes namely Routine and On-Demand:

- if the Routine mode is selected, the Portal will systematically process all the new acquisitions of the Mapitaly program according to a predefined image cropping in order to ensure the availability of Interferometric Datasets. Once ready, the products will be immediately available for download by the user, who can search the products portfolio and download them.

- If the On Demand mode is selected, the Portal will allow the user to request products of the Mapitaly acquisition program by specifying the kind of products that they are looking for, as well as the level of processing and the output format. This can be done by using highly performing and dedicated processing systems.

The GUI will allow the user to see the image footprint and its preview (when available), organize the images of interest into interferometric stacks, and sort them out by selecting different sorting criteria.

The user will be able to select one or more of the search results, in the form of individual images or entire interferometric stacks, and add them to the download/processing cart and then submit the requests.

In addition to the GUI, an M2M API feature will be soon made available. It will add functions to the Portal, which will be interfaced directly with Users' systems.

The presence of a user-oriented interface, a high-performance processing capability, and the download speed make this Portal an innovative tool designed to meet the User requirements in terms of its implementation.

Finally, ASI has already taken the necessary steps to expand the Portal by adding L-band data from the SAOCOM Mission and C-band data from Sentinel-1 to the X-band data from COSMO-SkyMed, with a view to providing a complete multi-frequency dataset to achieve even more extensive application goals.

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