Col. Staff Pilot Mahash Saeed Al hameli
uae Space Reconnaissance Centre,
United Arab Emirates
The UAE Space Reconnaisance Centre provides imagery and geospatial information in support of the United Arab Emirates. In this interview with [email protected] Middle East Col. Staff Pilot Mahash Saeed Al Hameli talks about the various activities, vision and mission of the Centre
Please tell us about the Space Reconnaissance Centre? What are the overall objectives of the Centre and its key activities?
The United Arab Emirates Space Reconnaissance Center was established in 1999. It is designed and built to provide timely, relevant, and accurate imagery, and geospatial information in support of the United Arab Emirates National security objectives at home and in the region. The SRC mission is to develop and maintain an advanced capability in remote sensing to meet the scientific, operational and business imagery requirements of the UAE and the region. The SRC operates a satellite ground station to acquire data from remote sensing satellites, and processes the archived data to standard or value-added products for distribution to its customers. The list of satellites the SRC receives includes: IKONOS, IRS 1C & 1D and Kompsat 1. The SRC also provides special products custom processed to users’ requirements, or training/consultation services in the field of remote sensing in the UAE. The Space Reconnaissance Center staff actively participates into numerous international professional associations. It also regularly contributes to international symposiums with specialized papers and participates to International shows and exhibits.
How is the centre contributing to the growth of Geospatial technologies in the UAE?
Our Satellite Ground Station is a critical part of the UAE Geospatial Information Infrastructure that is needed to support our military and civilian requirements for imagery information. It is important because it provides a visual Geospatial medium and, with appropriate digital technology, it allows not only the collection of more types of imagery to address different needs while decreasing the processing and dissemination time. These technologies allow our users to fusion and display of GIS data of all sorts in a more comprehensive fashion. The combination of imagery with geo-location accuracy and digital terrain elevation data (DEM) provide for the display of all source data in the context of terrain so that the user (military or civilian) can conduct analysis and make educated decisions in their respective fields (Security, Urbanism, Land Management, Development, etc.).
Although we collect imagery over a 5,000Km diameter circle around Abu Dhabi, we do acquire a significant amount of data on the UAE. This data is made available to all UAE users, Government and private enterprises, that need it to perform their assignments.
Please tell us about the Universal Ground Station established at Abu Dhabi. Also throw some light on the indigenous and latest technologies being developed for space reconnaissance for the UAE.
The United Arab Emirates Armed Force and Air Defense (UAEAF & AD) Universal Ground Station has the ability to task satellite systems and collect Imagery data in near real time. It is one of the very few outside the USA and Europe that can actually task certain satellites directly from Abu Dhabi. The station is comprised of two large x-Band antennas (9m and 4m dishes) that can be easily configured to receive any of the present and future Remote Sensing satellites data. We maintain an archive of all the data received with most of the high-resolution data store in real time. Currently we receive satellite imagery (panchromatic and multispectral) with resolution of .8m to 23m. The station has all the latest software resources to process the data to any level from Georeferenced to high accuracy orthophoto at 1:4,000 scale. In addition the station has installed a Google Earth enterprise system (similar to the Google Earth public system) for internal use by the Armed Forces. We also generates Intelligence products that, after being analyzed, are disseminated to the various Armed Forces units.
What has been the role of the Space Reconnaissance Centre in the entire development process of the Emirates?
Before the establishment of the center there was no ‘in country’ satellite collection capabilities in the UAE. With the launch of the SRC we have been able to secure exclusive imaging time from several satellite operators and this allowed us to both guarantee our access to the data and reduce the cost of using satellite imagery for the UAE government. With the SRC the UAE government now benefits from rapidly updated imagery and therefore allows all UAE GIS users to work with better up to date maps. This is of critical importance in a rapidly developing environment like the UAE where the currency of the GIS products is very short. The SRC really makes the development of our country more efficient and better capable to meet our population expectations.