LONDON: Australia is to be a launch partner on the UK’s innovative new small radar satellite, NovaSAR.
The spacecraft, which will track shipping and forestry change from orbit, is due to launch on an Indian rocket early next year.
Australia’s main research organisation, CSIRO, has signed a 10% share in NovaSAR’s data.
The deal comes on the heels of an announcement that the country will soon get a national space agency.
This future body will no doubt look to secure many more such collaborations, to enable Australian scientists and entrepreneurs to exploit the latest Earth observation information.
NovaSAR (PDF) has been built by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited in Guilford, in southern England, with the aid of a £21m UK government grant.
The 3m-long platform, which looks like a cheese-grater, is regarded as an “operational demonstrator” – that is to say, it will showcase a capability but with the intention that its data is put to good use to develop services.
Radar works at wavelengths that allow it to pierce cloud to see the surface of the Earth in all weathers, and in darkness.