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Addvalue’s proprietary IDRS endorsed as a key component of an European Earth observation project

Singapore Exchange Mainboard-listed Addvalue Technologies Ltd, a leading player in the mobile satellite communications industry, announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Addvalue Innovation Pte Ltd, has won endorsement for its proprietary Inter-satellite Data Relay Service (IDRS) from EO-ALERT, a European Union’s Horizon 2020 funded consortium comprising leading members of the European space industry as well as academic partners, as a key enabler for a real-time global delivery service for Earth Observation (EO) products. Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness.

The EO-ALERT consortium is led by DEIMOS Space of Spain, with participation of the German Space Agency DLR, spacecraft manufacturer OHB Italia, Graz Technical University of Austria, and Politecnico di Torino of Italy.

EO-ALERT primarily aims to define and develop the next-generation EO data and processing chain based on a novel flight segment architecture that moves key optimized EO data processing elements from the ground to space using on-board processing with the objective of providing the EO products to the end user within minutes of collecting the data. Within the frame of EO-ALERT, Addvalue’s IDRS service provides a very compelling option for delivering the on-board processed products to end users globally and within seconds.

The next generation EO data chain proposed by EO-ALERT exploits the observation that the classical EO data chain is focused on the fast transfer of the raw sensor data to ground, leading to the bottleneck that currently exists, and the natural drive towards optimisation of the classical EO data chain, through faster data transfer to ground, with higher compression ratios, and improved ground station contact periods. However this raw data is not the EO product of market value. In fact, in commercial applications, the EO raw data is not provided nor sold to the end user, and this is also the case in institutional EO solutions; the EO raw data is simply an intermediate step. The market value lies in the EO product delivered to the end user, not in the basic EO raw data. Hence if the EO image products can be generated on-board the satellite, given its very low data volume relative to the raw data, it can be very quickly and reliably transferred to ground.

EO-ALERT proposes innovation in several critical technological areas regarding on-board elements of the data and processing chain: on-board image generation and processing for both Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and optical sensor data, on-board reconfigurable data handling, high-speed on-board avionics, on-board data compression and reconfigurable high data rate communication links to ground. These technological areas cover the EO processing chain from the acquisition of the image up to delivery to a ground station. Such innovations will also provide capabilities for the optimisation of the classical EO data chain towards a data chain with greatly improved data throughput.

A test campaign was done by the EO-ALERT consortium independently to demonstrate and validate the EO-ALERT concept together with modeling of the IDRS link in flight, using a standard Inmarsat Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) terminal (which emulates the Addvalue space transceiver) and bench tests over the Inmarsat satellite. These tests confirmed that Addvalue’s IDRS service is indeed a reliable solution to provide real time global alert data delivery of EO products from Optical and SAR EO satellites to ground. For example, in one of the application scenarios under EO-ALERT, namely ship detection and classification based on a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) Vessel Detection Service (VDS), Addvalue’s IDRS service could enable the end-to-end global delivery time to be less than one minute. This is a quantum leap in resolving the inherent latency problem facing all LEO satellites operators today. Going forward, one will expect the IDRS service to become a standard feature for EO service operators globally, in particular, for applications when real time on demand data relay is of the essence.

The EO industry is continually developing and evolving a seamless integration of new technologies, sensing modalities, and unconventional data sources. As the demand for EO data explodes to address climate change and weather data collection, disaster recovery, maritime transport, environmental monitoring, etc., the need for capturing the EO data and deliver it to the end user with a minimum delay becomes more critical, thereby increasing the demand for the real-time delivery of satellite-based EO services. The global satellite-based EO market was valued at US$2.7 billion in 2019, and it is expected to nearly double to US$4.4 billion by 2025, registering a CAGR of 8.5% per annum.

Dr Colin Chan, Chairman and CEO of Addvalue, commented: “We are delighted to have the open endorsement of IDRS from the EO-ALERT Consortium, and this truly epitomizes the IDRS as a game changer to the way communications are provided for the LEO satellite operators. We are certainly pleased and honored to be the first in the world to be in a position to provide such a proven low latency, on demand and reliable service, and will capitalize on this pole position to reach out to the EO industry in meeting the ever growing demands”.