May 8, 2015

Real-Time Acquisition of Sentinel-1 Mission Data at the German Remote Sensing Data Center

The The German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD) (DFD) of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Neustrelitz was the first station worldwide outside the ESA core ground segment to acquire and process Sentinel-1 data. The radar data from this Copernicus satellite are being processed in near-real-time and used by DLR’s Maritime Safety Research Department in Neustrelitz and Bremen for such purposes as the automatic detection of ships and oil leaks and to derive wind, wave and ice parameters. The undergirding development work is being co-financed by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy and the State of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Direct acquisition enables German users to have access to data from this European satellite within minutes. This is absolutely crucial for urgent applications. In addition to the maritime near-real-time services the radar data are used by DFD’s Center for satellite based crisis information (ZKI) (ZKI) to generate maps showing the current flooding situation in Europe.

Neustrelitz is the first ground station to make possible this near-real-time access to Sentinel-1 data. The systems for acquiring the data in multimission operation and the associated process control were developed at DFD and integrated into the total processing chain with the help of a processor licenced from an outside source to generate standard products.

Direct reception of data from this satellite, launched in 2014, was regulated five months ago in an agreement between DLR and ESA. Acquisition of Sentinel data is one facet of the national collaborative Copernicus ground segment.

Sentinel-1A is the first operational satellite of the Sentinel series, which is being developed and operated for the European Copernicus programme. In the context of the core ground segment contracted by ESA, data from the satellites are acquired by ground stations in Svalbard (Norway), Matera (Italy) and Maspalomas (Spain) and then transferred to the processing and archiving centres (PACs) at DFD in Oberpfaffenhofen and Airbus in Farnborough (Great Britain). At those locations they are processed and distributed to users. In addition, national ground stations in the ESA member states can also directly acquire Sentinel data – as in Neustrelitz – in order to make them available for urgent applications.

For the further development of DFD as a European near-real-time data centre the acquisition in Neustrelitz of data from additional Sentinel missions is planned. The Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-3 satellites are planned for launch in the course of the current year.

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Melanie-Konstanze Wiese

Corporate Communications Berlin, Neustrelitz, Dresden, Jena and Cottbus/Zittau
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Corporate Communications
Rutherfordstraße 2, 12489 Berlin-Adlershof
Tel: +49 30 67055-639

Holger Maass

Head of Department
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD)
National Ground Segment
Kalkhorstweg 53, 17235 Neustrelitz

Gunter Schreier

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
German Remote Sensing Data Center; Direction
Münchener Straße 20, 82234 Weßling