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Researchers called to explore new applications of SAOCOM data

14 Mar 2023

ESA has invited Earth observation experts to devise and propose innovative applications for data delivered by Argentinian remote sensing constellation SAOCOM.

Artist’s impression of SAOCOM

The call for ideas is being delivered in collaboration with Argentina’s space agency CONAE, which manages and operates the satellites. Part of ESA’s Third Party Missions programme, the SAOCOM mission consists of two spacecraft – SAOCOM 1A and 1B – that collect polarimetric L-band synthetic aperture radar data.

The satellites – which launched in 2018 and 2020, respectively – collect data with high radiometric and geometric accuracy, with a revisit frequency of up to eight days for the constellation.

SAOCOM delivers timely information to accelerate crisis responses, facilitates monitoring applications in several industries, and supports the completion of ice surveys in Antarctica. The call for ideas – which is being delivered as part of the Promotion of Utilisation and Mission Applications and Science (PUMAS) initiative – offers researchers the opportunity to access SAOCOM-1 data provided by CONAE, enabling joint analyses with ESA and Copernicus Earth observation data.

Its main objective is to advance research related to several key areas of focus, including Earth system science, climate research, calibration and validation campaigns, ice and glacier monitoring, forest monitoring, marine applications, and urban planning.

The call is open to scientists working at institutes in ESA member states, as well as cooperating and associate member states. Proposals are also welcomed from joint European and Argentinian research teams that are working on dedicated PUMAS projects.

SAOCOM L-band polarimetric radar imagery is collected in a range of imaging modes, including Strip Map, TopSAR Narrow and TopSAR Wide. These data are available at resolutions of 10 m, 30-50 m and 50-100 m, respectively.


SAOCOM infographic
Download the infographic

In accordance with an agreement with CONAE, the Italian space agency ASI maintains exclusive distribution rights for SAOCOM-1 data collected over European and Mediterranean territories. As a result, data gathered over these areas are not included in the call.

However, these data are available from ASI via an existing collection page on Earth Online.

To respond to the call for ideas, principal investigators must submit an announcement of opportunity (AO) Project Proposal, which will be evaluated by both ESA and CONAE based on its scientific merits and its alignment with the announcement objectives.

More information on this process – as well as the steps to be taken after the project has been accepted and the reporting requirements – can be found on the SAOCOM Announcement of Opportunity webpage.

The first cycle of the call will run until the end of July 2023, after which ESA and CONAE will evaluate its implementation and make any required adjustments for the second phase.  



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