30 years of remote sensing for Australia
23 October 2009
In October 1979, the Australian Landsat Station (ALS) was opened by the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, The Hon Phillip Lynch, at Oatley Court in Belconnen, Canberra.
The ALS operated the 9 metre satellite reception dish in Alice Springs which received data from the then revolutionary Landsat 1 and 2 satellites. At that time, the Landsat satellites were imaging the world, but Australia's computers had not developed enough to process the satellite telemetry into the satellite images we see today.
Since then, we have downlinked the entire Landsat satellite series, as well as numerous other satellites (including Japan's Advanced Land Observing Satellite, the Indian operated Resources-1 satellite, Terra, Aqua, NOAA and EO-1). There have also been a few name changes: from the ALS to the Australian Centre for Remote Sensing (ACRES), and now the National Earth Observation Group within Geoscience Australia.
An additional 9 metre dish was opened at the Tasmanian Earth Resources Satellite Station in 1992 and is the only satellite station in the world capable of acquiring live imagery over New Zealand.
Geoscience Australia is currently undertaking a project to look back through the satellite imagery archive and provide information that will assist in addressing vital national issues such as drought, bushfire mapping and climate change.
Today Geoscience Australia downlinks over 30 satellite passes per day and holds the largest repository of satellite data in the Southern Hemisphere. Through these activities, Australia has become a world leader in monitoring deforestation for carbon accounting.
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