Government of Canada announces contract awards aimed at improving space-based earth observation capabilities

Backgrounder

December 14, 2018 – Ottawa, Ontario – National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces

Already a leader in civilian radar earth observation as a result of the launch of RADARSAT-2 in 2007, Canada will soon launch the three-satellite RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM). This mission will carry a multi-mode synthetic aperture radar and an automatic identification system to enable enhanced ship tracking and provide greater awareness of Canada’s territories as well as other areas of interest around the world where DND and its Allies operate.

In order to enhance Canada’s current and future earth observation capabilities, research and development is required to generate new approaches and tools to simplify and accelerate the tasking, collection, processing, exploitation and dissemination (TCPED) cycle. This cycle ensures that end-users have timely, relevant, accurate and actionable information products, such as maps and reports to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) applications. This type of Canadian investment in cutting-edge science and technology (S&T) innovations will guide the design of new advanced earth observation satellites that will eventually replace the RCM.

The All Domain Situational Awareness (ADSA) S&T Program has funded several calls for proposals to support innovation including in the area of compressing TCPED cycle for earth observing satellites in support of applications in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. A recent ADSA call was undertaken through the Defence Innovation Research Program (DIRP) and resulted in the Government of Canada investing $6.7 million into 12 projects aimed at improving the TCPED cycle. Structured as 50/50 cost-shared contracts with funding shared equally between government and industry, the DIRP model promotes joint ventures between Canada’s innovation industry and the Government of Canada, bringing the total public and private investment under this call for proposals to $13.2 million.

The following are the contracts awarded under the second DIRP call for proposals for the TCPED initiative. 

Title                             Complementary Electro-Optic/Infrared (EO/IR) payload to RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) follow-on

Supplier                       ABB

Location                      Quebec, Quebec

Project Type               Study

Federal contribution    $305,000 (Total: $610,000)

This project aims to help define mission objectives, requirements, and concepts for a secondary electro-optic/infrared payload for the RCM follow-on mission. It will also help identify critical technologies and risks.  The combination of different types of remote sensing sensors on the same spacecraft has the potential to greatly enhance situational awareness capabilities especially with respect to maritime traffic monitoring.

Title                             Project Arviq

Supplier                       AstroCom Associates Inc.

Location                      Ottawa, Ontario

Project Type               Study

Federal contribution    $165,000 (Total: $330,000)

Project Arviq will investigate the feasibility of a proposed capability to detect ocean waves in sea ice. Arviq builds upon recent results that show centimetre-scale ice waves can be imaged directly using synthetic aperture radar interferometry technology.

Title                             Multi-satellite data integration for operational ship detection, identification and tracking

Supplier                       C-CORE

Location                      St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

Project Type               Study

Federal contribution    $775,000 (Total: $1,550,000)

This study will investigate and develop a multi-satellite data classifying approach to enhance the capacity to discriminate ships from icebergs. Efficiently and rapidly classifying detected objects of interest in or over water is a key area of interest to the maritime domain situational awareness community.

Title                             Modelling the geospatial intelligence capability to support Canadian surveillance and sovereignty

Supplier                       C-CORE

Location                      St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

Project Type               Study

Federal contribution    $940,000 (Total: $1,880,000)

This project will evaluate the spatio-temporal aspects of acquiring, downlinking and analyzing imagery for the generation of geographical intelligence products in support of land and maritime monitoring. It will investigate and develop a multi-satellite data classifier to better characterize ship and non-ship targets.

Title                             Electro-Optic/Infrared data analytics for enhanced maritime surveillance

Supplier                       Complex System Inc.

Location                      Calgary, Alberta

Project Type               Study and prototype development

Federal contribution    $200,000 (Total: $400,000)

This project will develop an on-board video processing system which will be used together with space-based radar and ship dectection sensors to enhance near-real time vessel detection, tracking and identification. Complex Systems Inc. will develop a new data analytics system by leveraging leading edge computer vision and machine learning technologies and deliver a suite of advanced processing tools enabling enhancing maritime surveillance capabilities.

Title                             RADARSAT thematic exploitation platform demonstrator

Supplier                       CubeWerx Inc.

Location                      Gatineau, QC

Project Type               Study

Federal contribution    $485,000 (Total: $970,000)

This project will study complementary Big Data and Cloud computing approaches to support scalability, agility, and on-demand availability of earth observation data products.  CubeWerx will develop a RADARSAT thematic exploitation platform and demonstrate a working environment where users can package their applications and upload them to a Cloud environment that supports the processing of users algorithms at scale, avoiding the need to download and store large volumes of images locally.

Title                             Real-time processing of large-volume space-based multimodal data

Supplier                       General Dynamics Mission Systems

Location                      Ottawa, Ontario

Project Type               Study and prototype development

Federal contribution    $75,000 ($150,000)

This project will develop new approaches using emerging graphics processing unit architectures and the latest algorithms to process large volumes of satellite remote sensing data from multiple sources and types such as multiband radar, electro-optical and infrared sensors.

Title                             Augmenting Canada’s maritime surveillance capability with complementary electro-optic/infrared information products

Supplier                       MDA Systems Ltd.

Location                      Richmond, British Columbia

Project Type               Study and prototype development

Federal contribution    $1,000,000 (Total: $2,000,000)

This project will demonstrate how incorporating various types of space remote sensing satellite data elements can augment maritime surveillance capabilities with additional detections and improve classification, identification, and tracking.

Title                             Application of Big Data analytics techniques to extracting GEOINT from synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery

Supplier                       MDA Geospatial Services Inc.

Location                      Richmond, British Columbia

Project Type               Study

Federal contribution    $500,000 (Total: $1,000,000)

This project will investigate Big Data analytics and automatization techniques to better exploit the large and growing data archives of RADARSAT-2 and the upcoming RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM). It proposes to understand and demonstrate how Big Data analytics, in particular deep learning, can be applied to large archives of synthetic aperture radar imagery to extract relevant geospatial intelligence.

Title                             Persistent multi-sensor land surveillance and change monitoring

Supplier                       MDA Systems Ltd.

Location                      Richmond, British Columbia

Project Type               Study

Federal contribution    $750,000 (Total: $1,500,000)

This project will explore how wide-area automated change monitoring techniques can be enhanced by using a combination of earth observing data types such as RADARSAT and electro-optical data. The expected benefits include more persistent, more operational, all-weather monitoring capabilities combined with very high change classification accuracy. The project will leverage deep learning and exploit the availability of large satellite image archives.

Title                             Architecture innovations for analytics-ready data

Supplier                       UrtheCast Corp.

Location                      Vancouver, British Columbia

Project Type               Study and prototype development

Federal contribution    $1,000,000 (Total: $2,000,000)

This project will demonstrate scalable warehousing and on-demand processing of analytics-ready space remote sensing data from multiple types of earth obervation systems, to enable emerging techniques including artificial intelligence to be used for the production of geographical information products.  

Title                             Complementary sensor exploitation

Supplier                       UrtheCast Corp.

Location                      Vancouver, British Columbia

Project Type               Study and prototype development

Federal contribution    $499,000 (Total: $999,000)

This project will develop, implement and demonstrate a new system to deliver thematic maps derived from complementary satellite earth observation data sources in support of CAF land operations. 


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