Geodaysit 2023

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

Monitoring critical infrastructures and structures (energy and transportation) is one of the application domains of national relevance for which satellite technologies may be exploited to improve detection of causative factors of deterioration, mapping of sectors at risk, and prioritization of structural and maintenance works.
Although ground-based non-destructive testing (NDT) methods have been successfully applied for decades, reaching very high standards for data quality and accuracy, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite technology and interferometric techniques (InSAR) have proved to be a real “game changer”. The impact on infrastructure monitoring was particularly significant, also in light of the increased flow of SAR data collected in different radar bands and disseminated by space agencies in these past years.
ASI’s COSMO-SkyMed constellation operating in X-band is among the satellite assets that are mostly exploited by scientific and commercial community to perform high precision and accuracy monitoring, at high spatial and temporal resolution. Recent studies undertaken by ASI following “data exploitation” initiatives of COSMO-SkyMed data have highlighted an increasing use of these data to study and monitor bridges, motorways, railways, pipelines and plants. Scientific proof of concepts and demonstrators have led to strengthening national and international expertise in the use of InSAR multi-temporal techniques, and paved the way for downstream applications and mature monitoring services.
At the same time, the global scale availability of C-band Sentinel-1 data has contributed to a further dissemination of InSAR techniques for infrastructure monitoring, although the specialist literature has highlighted the limitations due to spatial resolution, as well as the need to combine different band SAR data collected at different resolution.
From 2021 to 2023, through the “Multi-mission and Multi-Frequency SAR” Program (Tapete et al., 2022), ASI has supported R&D projects focusing on data fusion and post-processing techniques in the field of infrastructure deformation monitoring. Benefits achievable through integration of multi-band SAR data (including L-band SAOCOM) have been demonstrated.
In light of these investments and the maturity of SAR data processing algorithms for generation of application products, ASI continues their institutional mission according to the following activities:
• In the upstream sector of satellite missions, improving SAR sensors to achieve new observation capabilities with COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation (CSG) satellites and facilitating the accessibility to long time series ensuring observation continuity;
• In the downstream sector of applications and services development, promoting SAR data exploitation, also in combination with navigation and telecommunications technologies, through the new programme “Innovation for Downstream Preparation” (I4DP), wherein management and monitoring of structural stability of critical infrastructures is among the application domains of recent funding and projects initiation.
The present paper therefore will illustrate ASI’s contribution on this application domain, 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).

Tapete et al. (2022) ASI's “Multi-mission and Multi-Frequency SAR” Program for Algorithms Development and SAR Data Integration Towards Scientific Downstream Applications. IGARSS 2022, pp. 4498-4501, doi: 10.1109/IGARSS46834.2022.9884937.