Scientists at the University of NSW would get free access to an unprecedented flow of birds-eye information about Australia from an advanced weather satellite proposed for launch in 2008, under a new deal struck with AstroVision Australia.
The formal teaming agreement sets the scene for UNSW researchers to receive a daily torrent of valuable space-based imaging data from the planned AstroVision satellite.
The company aims to establish the first live, continuous, high-resolution and true-colour motion imagery and data of the Earth from a geostationary imaging satellite stationed above the Australasian region. It would scan the planet from as far west as India and as far east as Hawaii.
AstroVision has an exclusive licence for the Asia-Pacific region for space imaging technology emerging from the NASA planetary exploration program in the US. The satellite would let users monitor the land, sea and air in a whole series of new ways.
Among its seven sensing devices would be a 24-hour live video camera: weather forecasters and climate researchers both would benefit greatly, for example, by being able to monitor cloud formations continuously instead of having to rely on once-an-hour still images provided by the current generation of weather satellites.
The sensors could be used as well to monitor in real-time natural disasters, to reduce bushfire and hail damage, improve coastal surveillance, navigational hazards for maritime and aviation industries, and improve electrical energy forecasting and delivery efficiency.
Apart from the company's commercial plans for the satellite, UNSW Dean of Science Professor Mike Archer says that if the launch goes ahead it could open up exciting prospects of many new avenues of research on the Australian environment, including monitoring of vegetation changes, ocean temperatures and volcanic ash in the atmosphere.
Dr Ray Merton, a senior lecturer in the University's School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, said the quality of the information coming from the satellite would be far better than current technology, while the quantity of information would increase enormously.
"It would give us a deluge of data" - Dr Ray Merton
"It would be a deluge of data," Dr Merton said. "If we had the resources we could put on whole teams of researchers to process all that information because the scientific potential is so high."
AstroVision also has teaming agreements in place with CSIRO, ac3, Optus and Apple Computer.
AstroVision is a 51% owned subsidiary of the ASX listed company Horizon Global and was incorporated in 2003. It is based in Sydney.
General Manager Michael Hewins said: "AstroVision Australia is very pleased to have the teaming agreement with the University of New South Wales in place. We will provide our satellite data to the University, which will use it for research applications in many public and private areas.
"Their support for AstroVision endorses the strength of our technology and our ability to work with them to develop a space industry business in the Australia, South Asia and Pacific Region."
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