National Research Council of Canada collaborates with European Space Agency to validate satellite sensor data

- Farnborough, United Kingdom 

Figure 1: Image of the Mer Bleue Peatland from May 11, 2016. This image is a mosaic of 12 airborne image flight lines required to provide complete coverage of the 28 km2 peatland. The image is generated using just 3 of the 248 visible, near-, and short- wave infrared spectral channels acquired by the NRC hyperspectral imaging sytem.

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is leading a European Space Agency (ESA) funded project to validate land data products derived from high resolution satellite optical imagery. The research activities consist of collecting a comprehensive data set comprised of airborne hyperspectral imagery and ground observations at the large Mer Bleue peatland bog located near Ottawa, Canada. The environment at the study site is an ideal substitute for high latitude arctic and sub-arctic wetlands that are the target of satellite-based research. The location enables NRC to develop and verify data validation techniques without the challenges of airborne and ground missions in remote northern or arctic locations.

Using NRC's Twin Otter aircraft equipped with the Canadian built ITRES CASI 1500 and SASI 644 hyperspectral imaging sensor systems, the NRC team acquired airborne imagery synchronized with satellite overpass data. Unique software capabilities and expertise from the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing at Natural Resources Canada will contribute to the assessment of the hyperspectral imagery's data quality. The software will then simulate satellite imagery from the airborne and field data sets to further support application development for peatland characterization by satellite.

McGill University's Department of Geography, which operates the Mer Bleue Peatland Observatory, will oversee extensive on-site acquisition measurements to corroborate airborne and satellite measurements to ground level observations. LOOKNorth, a centre of excellence for commercialization and research, operated by C-CORE, provided additional project management capabilities to the group.

"This ground-breaking work of developing validation methods for satellite imaging taps into our depth of expertise in image acquisition, calibration, and analysis," said Jerzy Komorowski, General Manager of Aerospace at NRC. "As the lead Canadian agency on this project, we are happy to work with the European Space Agency and our Canadian partners on this exciting project, and help to verify products derived from ESA's Sentinel-2 satellite."

This project is part of NRC's Civilian Unmanned Aircraft Systems program. For more information about the National Research Council of Canada, its aerospace programs, capabilities and facilities, visit our Aerospace research and development expertise website.

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