First images of the newly installed DRS Antenna at the AIR Centre EO Lab

  • May 18, 2022 | by AIR Centre

Th AIR Centre, located in Terceira island in the Azores, is now receiving data every few hours from several satellites (including NASA), through a Direct Receiving Station (DRS). The installation and operation of DRS is a result of an agreement between the AIR Centre, the regional government, and TERinov (Science and Technology Park in Terceira island), and capitalizes on the geolocation of the Azores. This is a unique technical and competitive advantage for the region, as it allows access to satellite data from the region, with only a few minutes of time delay, critically making possible the development of applications in NRT – Near Real Time. This is a significant asset for the region and the EO Lab, as it potenciates the provision of data and services at the regional, national, and international levels in NRT.

The provision of information in NRT of Earth Observation data is a unique asset for different types of users and applications, both national and international. The local storage (in the Terceira, Azores) of these data also allows their access to regional and national entities with very low latency times, allowing their local processing for the purposes of R&D of new applications without the need to use servers in other parts of the world.

Examples of real-time applications are alerts and follow-up of extreme weather events and natural disasters. Final users are research centers and universities, local authorities and other entities (such as those linked to agriculture, forests, fisheries, meteorological services, among others) as well as companies in general.  Start-ups may also request access to data via RESTful API for the development of new products and services, thus also stimulating the local economy directly.

The satellites being tracked are: TERRA (NASA), AQUA (NASA), Suomi NPP (NASA-NOAA), JPSS-1 (NOAA), Feng Yun-3 (China). The system requires a dedicated antenna and other equipment, including several servers and software for the direct reception of data. The system is also known as DRS (“Direct Receiving Station”). The operation of a DRS system generates large volumes of data daily (in the order of hundreds of Gigabytes) that are stored and processed in real time at the AIR Centre’s data centre in TERinov.

The EO Lab is a dedicated unit of the AIR Centre, located in the TERinov Technological Park and is established as ESA_LAB@Azores, a laboratory to set-up an institutional link between academia, high-tech enterprises, research institutions and European Space Agency to explore innovative applications of space technologies of observation in the Atlantic area. ESA_LAB@Azores is an initiative promoted by the regional government of Azores, the Portuguese Space Agency – Portugal Space – and the European Space Agency.