Geodaysit 2023

Satellite technologies for Cultural Heritage: state of the art, perspectives and Italian Space Agency contribution
06-13, 10:00–10:15 (Europe/London), Sala Videoconferenza @ PoliBa

In the last 20 years, satellite technologies have been increasingly used for study, monitoring, conservation and promotion of cultural heritage, with a growing trend at both national and international levels. Recent publications critically reviewing the specialist scientific literature highlight a significant level of maturity of satellite applications in this domain (Luo et al., 2019; Tapete and Cigna, 2019a), so as satellite images collected from optical sensors have already become common data exploited by (geo-)archaeologists, researchers and heritage experts. At the same time, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) technologies are increasingly being tested and exploited, also beyond the specialist image analyst community, thanks to multidisciplinary collaboration between different professionals (Tapete and Cigna, 2017) and facilitated SAR data access given the increasing provision by space agencies, also in “ready to use” formats (Tapete and Cigna, 2019b). At European level, the Italian ecosystem undoubtedly represents an excellence, given not only the long tradition in exploitation of innovative technologies for cultural heritage, but also the space sector investments into both Earth Observation missions with characteristics of image acquisition that well suit the user needs and requirements for this application domain, and initiatives promoting downstream applications and services development engaging small, medium and large enterprises. In continuity with the past decade, ASI continues launching and managing several initiatives for cultural heritage, in particular along the following directions:
• Undertaking scientific research and development, also through real-world user-driven use cases, e.g. demonstrating the performance achievable using national assets such as COSMOSkyMed data (Tapete and Cigna, 2019b; 2020);
• Supporting COSMO-SkyMed data exploitation in projects with Italian institutions (e.g. Ministry of Culture, Archaeological Park of Colosseum), and activities devoted to downstream applications and services development (e.g. in Pompeii, Capo Colonna) (Virelli et al., 2020);
• Promoting downstream by scientific, commercial and institutional users through the new programme “Innovation for Downstream Preparation” (I4DP), wherein safeguard of environment, cultural heritage and national landscape is among the key application domains.
The present paper therefore will illustrate ASI’s contribution for cultural heritage, alongside the current perspectives, in light of the COSMO-SkyMed programme (upstream) and “Multi-mission and Multi-Frequency SAR” and I4DP programmes (downstream), the latter with particular focus on the initiative dedicated to scientific users (I4DP_SCIENCE) according to the roadmap defined by Tapete & Coletta (2022).

Luo L., Wang X., Guo H., Lasaponara R., Zong X., Masini N., Wang G., Shi P., Khatteli H., Chen F. et al. (2019) Airborne and spaceborne remote sensing for archaeological and cultural heritage applications: A review of the century (1907–2017). Remote Sens. Environ., 232, 111280. doi: 10.1016/j.rse.2019.111280
Tapete D., Cigna F. (2017) Trends and perspectives of space-borne SAR remote sensing for archaeological landscape and cultural heritage applications. J. Archaeol. Sci. Reports, 14, 716–726. doi: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2016.07.017
Tapete D., Cigna F. (2019a) Detection of Archaeological Looting from Space: Methods, Achievements and Challenges. Remote Sens., 11, 2389. doi: 10.3390/rs11202389
Tapete D., Cigna, F. (2019b) COSMO-SkyMed SAR for detection and monitoring of archaeological
and cultural heritage sites. Remote Sens., 11, 1326. doi: 10.3390/rs11111326
Tapete D., Cigna F. (2020) Poorly known 2018 floods in Bosra UNESCO site and Sergiopolis in Syria
unveiled from space using Sentinel-1/2 and COSMO-SkyMed. Sci. Rep., 10, 12307. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-69181-x
Tapete D., Coletta A. (2022) ASI’s roadmap towards scientific downstream applications of satellite
data, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-5643. doi: 10.5194/egusphere-egu22-5643, 2022.
Virelli et al. (2020) COSMO-SkyMed: uno strumento satellitare per il monitoraggio dei beni culturali. In: Monitoraggio e Manutenzione delle Aree Archeologiche. Cambiamenti climatici, dissesto idrogeologico, degrado chimico-ambientale / Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi, Roma, Curia Iulia, 20-21 Marzo 2019 / Alfonsina Russo e Irma Della Giovampaola - (a cura di) - «L’ERMA» di BRETSCHNEIDER, 2020 - (Collana Bibliotheca Archaeologica, 65) 278 p.; ill., pp. 103112.