The CSTARS facility consists of three components: an Ingest Archive System (IAS); a Product Generation System (PGS) and a Data Exploitation System (DES). The facility is based on two antennas for redundancy and conflict resolution and includes dual units of all other key components for redundancy and backup. This approach permits highly automated operation. Satellite data reception and tracking is accomplished with two ViaSat 11.28 m X-band antennas with characteristics: G/T = 37dB @ 5 deg elevation; half-power beamwidth = 0.24 deg and 1st sidelobe = 15 db. The antennas have a center elevation of 12 m (~39 ft).

The CSTARS coverage map or visibility for a typical LEO satellite in an 800 km orbit is about 2.5° minimum elevation (e.g., RadarSat-1) and covers all of Florida, the eastern half of the USA even into northern part of Canada, all of the Caribbean Basin including the Lesser Antilles, Central America, Mexico, and a fraction of northern South America and the eastern Pacific. High SNR data reception to low elevation angle is critical for extended range. Continuous tests have shown that performance of the antennas at low elevation angles is feasible. As long as the bit error rate (BER) is very small as a function of elevation angle and azimuth and the antennas achieve high SNR low elevation reception is possbile and still allow for high fidelity SAR image processing and subsequent value-added analysis.


CSTARS antenna mask. this figure shows the line-of-site, and anytime a satellite passes into the circle of visibility, antennas at CSTARS are able to receive data from it.

Rapid data access for time sensitive applications and long term archiving are achieved with sufficient high capacity hard discs (e.g. RAID) available to enable users to access all data acquired within a certain period (e.g., several weeks). The system is fully integrated and takes advantage of the new high-speed internet connectivity. CSTARS was the first to design ultra-high speed access into the basic system from the beginning.

The present and future satellite operation schedule is as follows:

Phase 1:

  • RADARSAT-1 and SPOT-2/4 reception, telemetry, processing and analysis capability, including DEM production and SAR interferometry.
  • ENVISAT ASAR and ERS-2 reception, telemetry, and processing capability and license agreements.

Phase 2:

  • Full archive and enhanced processing capability for multi satellite systems.
  • Add MODIS on Terra and Aqua capability.
  • Add SPOT-5 high-resolution optical sensor capability.
  • Explore and add limited satellite sensor such as Quickbird, IKONOS and OrbView-3 in terms of processing capability.

Phase 3:

  • Additional high-resolution microwave satellites such as RADARSAT-2, TerraSAR-X and ALOS/PALSAR.
  • Additional high-resolution electro-optical satellites such as BLOCK-II.

The objectives of phases 1 and 2 have been achieved and efforts are made to accomplish phase 3.

Given the potentially large number of satellites and data types to be accessed by CSTARS, the number of possible applications is enormous. Below is an example set of applications, grouped by discipline which might be relevant for the system proposed here. In the following sample list of applications, the major data type to be used is also listed, using the following abbreviations:

SAR is Synthetic Aperture Radar including RADARSAT-1/2, ERS-2, ENVISAT, TerraSAR-X, ALOS/PALSAR and future SAR sensors; INSAR is Interferometric SAR;
VI is visible and infrared imagery, including MODIS, SPOT-2/4/5, Quickbird, IKONOS, Orbview-3, Block-II;
PMW is passive microwave including AMSR, SSMI, WINDSAT, NPOESS;
SCAT is active microwave scatterometer including QuikScat and ASCAT.

Ocean Sciences:

Mapping of ocean color and temperature fields (VI)
Collection of surface wave statistics (SAR)
Frontal tracking (VI, SAR)
Estimation of surface wind fields (SAR, SCAT, PMW)
Beach and barrier island erosion (SAR)
River outflows/sediment resuspension (VI)
Biological productivity (VI)
Langmuir circulation and internal wave signatures (SAR, VI)
Wave breaking distributions (SAR, VI)
Wave-Current Interactions (SAR)
Extreme wave detection (SAR)

Environmental Monitoring:

Pollution plume monitoring (VI, SAR)
Location/velocity of oil slicks, with "backtrack" capability (VI, SAR)
Vegetation type and health (VI)
Coastal zone monitoring (VI, SAR)
Water level changes (SAR)
Volcano monitoring (SAR)
Invasive species assessment (SAR, VI)
Soil moisture (SAR)
Tropical storm monitoring (SAR, SCAT, PMW)

Cold Front in Maine

Cold Front near Lake Sebago, Maine (SPOT-2,10 m panchromatic, collected: 13 November 2003), © CNES 2004. Distribution SPOT Image Corporation. Processing CSTARS.

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