Governments and international disaster response teams have long relied on satellites to assess the impacts of disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. Now ESA has partnered with ICEYE, a Finnish microsatellite manufacturer, to improve early warning systems for floods and wildfires and extend their geographical coverage globally.
Using synthetic aperture radar technology enables ICEYE’s satellites to see through the smoke while the fires are still burning, so emergency teams can pinpoint individual homes and people at risk – as well as precious natural habitats. First responders can use the information to follow the unfolding dangers and assess the impact.
The same technology also enables emergency teams to see through storm clouds to assess the extent of flooding, its depth and probable duration, creating actionable intelligence on natural disasters by providing data in near-real time. Space data can also help to predict floods, avert disasters and speed recovery.
The three-year project, called “Crisis observations and management from space”, is an ESA Partnership Project with ICEYE under the agency’s Civil Security from Space programme. It is being led from ICEYE’s headquarters in Finland with contributions from the company’s offices in Spain and Poland.
The work will inform efforts to accelerate the use of space to provide a rapid and resilient response to crises on Earth. ESA is working with organisations across Europe to deliver such a system to safeguard people when terrestrial systems are damaged by natural hazards, accidents or malicious actions.
Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and Co-Founder at ICEYE, said: “This partnership is an opportunity to test the boundaries of natural catastrophe monitoring solutions, alongside ESA. The civil security from space programme demonstrates the commitment of ESA and the European space community to use space technology to build community resilience. We are honoured to have been selected to participate in this programme, and to be at the forefront of the new space-based crisis observation and management era.”
Josef Aschbacher, Director General of ESA, said: “I am delighted to sign the first ESA Partnership Project with ICEYE under the civil security from space programme, supporting European efforts to use space to monitor, mitigate and resolve civil security and crisis events to keep people, infrastructures and resources safe on Earth. We look forward to working with our Finnish partner on this project.”
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