Northern Ireland SME Challenge

With the support OF

Space for Sustainable Living

Airbus Defence and Space, Digital Catapult NI, Invest NI and Northern Ireland Space Office invite you to enter the challenge to exploit earth observation data to create applications under the theme ‘Space for Sustainable Living’. 

Through this challenge Invest NI would like to raise the awareness of exploiting such data for the benefit of the economy, public sector services and ultimately the wider community

© parabolstudio    

The competition aims to deliver innovative solutions for society needs.

The following simple judging criteria will be applied:

Potential usefulness and impact

Innovation and Creativity



The winning team will be awarded an Airbus satellite imagery voucher worth 20,000 €. This will enable the winning team to order data from satellites part of the Airbus Earth observation satellite constellation up to the value of 20,000 €, based on prices as specified in Airbus International Pricelists effective at the time of order. The voucher is non-transferrable and non-negotiable and will be valid for use within six months from time of award. No cash alternative is available.

Competition is open to Northern Ireland based SME’s or research institutions. Access to the portal and data for the challenge is only available to competition entrants and will be closely monitored.

Registrations for this challenge will close on April 30th 2018. Once registered all applicants will be sent a template which they will be asked to complete (by April 30th 2018) in order to submit their application idea to the judging panel for review. Once registered applicants will be sent a copy of the competition rules, which they will be asked to review and accept prior to returning their completed application template. After registration, you will received an email with instructions to download the data. The completed application template should be sent to this email. All applicants will be notified by the end of June 2018 of the panel’s decision on the winning application. Failure to complete and return the application template before the deadline will mean that the entry will not be considered as part of the judging process. 


Earth Observation satellite technology provides a framework for spatio-temporal mapping and monitoring of the Earth’s surface, to objectively track and guide environmental issues or human activity on a repeatable basis. 

The image data assembled for the Innovation Challenge provides a representative sample of imagery over Northern Ireland locations acquired by the Airbus Earth observation satellite constellation. An overview web page can be found at, with sub-pages describing each data source in more detail. 

There are two principal data categories: 

  • Optical data, relying on sunlight and clear weather to illuminate the land surface. Our examples include DMC Constellation, SPOT6/7 and Pléiades imagery.  
  • Radar data (in the form of Synthetic Aperture Radar or SAR) which operates independently of sunlight and weather. Our examples are from TerraSAR-X.  

Imagery has been selected to illustrate a range of spatial resolutions, geographic coverage and temporal separations, as well as both sensor categories. In general, the higher the spatial resolution, the more localised the geographic coverage. Participants in the Challenge can select accordingly.

DMC Constellation imagery

Optical imagery from the UK2 satellite, part of the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (or DMC), provides a high temporal revisit, wide swath, medium spatial resolution specification which is designed to acquire very wide area coverages (national, continental) or time series, in three spectral bands. In the Northern Ireland context, the whole province can be easily covered in a single overpass. The spatial resolution of 22m is suited for mapping scales of 1:50,000 or smaller. Imagery is acquired from vertically above (i.e. from ‘nadir’).

A collection of 12 sufficiently cloud-free images has been sourced from archive: 

DMC Constellation coverage map

A zoom-in shows the level of terrain detail:

Zoomed in example of DMC Constellation imagery


SPOT6/7 offer an industry-unique blend of high spatial resolution (1.5m) over a district-scale 60km x 60km scene area, which supports data acquisition campaigns that aim for detailed national coverages. Mapping scales are in the order of 1:5,000 for local mapping, to national map revision at scales down to 1:25,000. Temporal repeat performance is enhanced by the agility of the satellites, which allows oblique imaging to left and right of the orbital path as well as from the nadir position. 

Sufficiently cloud-free imagery has been selected from archive which covers large regions around Belfast, Londonderry and Enniskillen. The multi-spectral imagery (which is collected at 6m spatial resolution) has been ‘sharpened’ by inclusion of the matching 1.5m resolution Panchromatic image channel.

Coverage map for both SPOT6 and Pléiades images

Zoomed-in example of SPOT-6 imagery (pan-sharpened RGB)


Pléiades 1A and 1B form a 2-satellite constellation with 50cm spatial resolution, over a ‘footprint’ area of 20km x 20km. The satellites are highly agile and offer both nadir and off-nadir image acquisition to achieve a high revisit time as well as flexible coverage modes, including stereo. This versatility allows Pléiades imagery to be tasked for specific monitoring and surveillance tasks by the customer, with the resolution being well suited to precision mapping and photo-interpretation at mapping scales in the range 1:2,000 – 1:5,000.

Examples of Pléiades data have been selected from archive, to complement the SPOT coverage and more localised around Belfast, Londonderry and Enniskillen. The multi-spectral imagery (which is collected at 2m spatial resolution) has been ‘sharpened’ by inclusion of the matching 0.5m resolution Panchromatic image channel.

Zoomed-in example of Pléiades imagery (Pan-sharpened RGB)


SAR satellites are ‘active’ sensors that operate independent of weather conditions and light, guaranteeing image collection in almost all conditions. SAR satellites like TerraSAR-X are multi-mode and offer a wide variety of spatial resolution and coverage per acquisition. TerraSAR-X imagery is available in a range of resolutions from 25cm to 40m. TerraSAR-X operates at the X-band frequency and features a unique geometric accuracy that is unmatched by any other spaceborne sensor.

Furthermore TerraSAR-X data is available in various polarisation modes of the transmitted signal versus the backscattered returned signal, which can either be horizontally or vertically polarised. The TerraSAR-X data offered here is in ‘HH’ mode - representing the horizontally polarised backscatter from an original horizontally polarised transmitted signal. The spatial resolution is 3m though the data has been resampled to 1.5m. Archive data together with some fresh acquisitions have been sourced for Belfast, Londonderry and Enniskillen.

Archive data together with some fresh acquisitions have been sourced for Belfast, Londonderry and Enniskillen.

Coverage maps for TerraSAR-X imagery

Zoom-in of TerraSAR-X imagery

Register to start
developing with us!

PLEASE, complete the form below and tell us about your project.