SmartSat CRC Cal/Val Platform

Next Generation Testbed Design for Earth Observation (EO).

The Challenge

Australia is in a privileged geographical position when it comes to Earth Observing space missions. Increasingly, multiple stakeholders – including industry, government, defence, academia and NGOs – are relying on EO data for their mapping, monitoring, and modelling activities. However, for EO data and products to become widely used and adopted, providing the right level of “trust” is critical, especially in key sectors where the benefits of EO could be invaluable such as agriculture, mining, emergency services, and natural resources in aquatic and terrestrial environments. This trust comes from understanding the explicit link between the satellite derived information and sampled ground measurements (calibration) as well as knowing its level of accuracy (validation). EO product calibration and validation is a critical yet underfunded component of satellite data supply systems. This project aimed to identify promising areas of research in the field of pre-operational testing of EO sensors (calibration), and algorithms and analytics (validation) for EO. 


This project was conducted in collaboration with the SmartSatCRC (SSCRC). 

The Solution

Currently there is no private sector capability within Australia. Calibration and validation data is widely distributed and often hidden behind government and research institute firewalls. With many new satellite image sensors coming online over the next few years it is necessary to have a robust and easily scalable baseline assessment system in place. 

The project engaged private industry on both the upstream (satellite image producers) and downstream (satellite image providers and users) to prototype a next generation testbed platform to calibrate and validate earth observation satellite imagery derived products.  

The project involved: 

  1. Workshops, a user-centric survey and interviews. 
  2. Development of a prototype cloud-based testbed platform for automated calibration and validation of satellite imagery derived products. 
  3. Testing of the prototype testbed platform. 
  4. Reporting on outcomes and next steps to operationalise.  

The testbed will facilitate greater awareness of the types of calibration and validation methods to employ, as well as providing the building blocks for private industry to develop calibration and validation services. The outcomes of the project will enable private industry in Australia to conduct testing across multiple environments to deliver against known and benchmarked standards. 

The project influenced and informed the direction of research in the area of design and development of pre-operational testing of Earth Observation derived products, and in the longer term will: 

  • Support development of a sustainable approach to the provision of pre-operational, calibration and validation activities that positions Australia to develop and test innovations in the Earth Observation space 
  • Support the creation of a private sector testing capability of international interest that serves as a direct contribution to the global EO community and opens the door for Australia to be part of international partnerships in the development of new sensors, satellite missions and products. 
  • Grow the Australian Space sector by providing foundational building blocks for private industry, to provide calibration and validation of earth observation products as a service or to conduct it in-house. 
  • Improve the trust users have in earth observation products, which has been identified as a critical barrier to adoption both within Australia, and globally. 

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