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Activity title

Geospatial Information Extraction from Space-Borne SAR-Images for NATO-Operations

Activity Reference



Sensors & Electronics Technology

Security Classification



Awaiting Publication

Activity type


Start date


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Change Detection, GEOINT, IMINT, IPB, Reconnaissance, SAR Satellite Sensors, Unified Vision 2014


Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems on space-borne platforms can provide very useful information for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes. Corresponding geoinformation is essential for decision making of military leaders concerning situation assessment in crises, conflicts, peace keeping missions or war. The information collection with space-borne SAR-systems operating at microwave frequencies is independent on day- and night-time, nearly independent on adverse weather conditions. Additionally the use of sensors on satellite platforms is internationally accepted as a nonintrusive method. Since 2007 mainly three space-borne SAR-missions (Radarsat 2, COSMO-SkyMed, TerraSAR-X) are operating very successfully in C- and X-band at spatial resolutions between 1 m and 3 m. All the systems together are capable to acquire about 100.000 images per year. Especially interesting is COSMO-SkyMed which forms with its 4 satellites a constellation and can achieve a corresponding shorter revisit time. The research work carried out in this group is therefore focused on the extraction of geospatial intelligence and show its relevance for NATO operations in the following subjects: generation of digital elevation and surface models, targets detection, recognition, and identification, and detection of changes. NATO doesn’t use the potential the moment available, already existing images of existing commercial SAR missions


The group wants to show in the frame of NATO trials such as Unified Vision the potential of extracted geospatial information using space-borne SAR sensors. The specific goals are: • Contribution to the intelligence preparation of the battle space (IPB) • Demonstration of SAR-capabilities for reconnaissance purposes during the NATO trial Unified Vision 2014 • Integration of the extracted geospatial information into an interoperable environment (e. g. CSD) • Application of the lessons learned to Unified Vision 2016


The following main topics are covered: • Data collection with space-borne SAR-sensors (COSMO-SkyMed, TerraSAR-X, and Radarsat 2) for IPB and during the trials • Enhancement of formerly developed algorithms for the generation of intelligence relevantinformationlayers (e. g. DEMs, DSMs, activity maps ,hydrology, land use including infrastructure, …) • Monitoring changes during the trials (e. g. displacement of relevant objects. …) for a more efficient ISR asset mission planning. • Adaption of the information extraction process to an operational environment

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