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  4. Space data addressing global challenges

Space data addressing global challenges

The OU hosts a vibrant international team with large experience in analysing and processing of satellite data for Earth Observation (EO).

The versatility of EO data allows us to tackle very diverse tasks in the context of global challenges, covering applications in observation of land, ocean and atmosphere.


Demonstration of future satellite missions

We have built a radar system able to simulate acquisition from the ESA Sentinel-1 satellite. We use it to train and validate algorithms developed for satellite data.

ESA Sentinel-1 satellite

European Space Agency (ESA) Sentinel-1 satellite. It acquires radar images using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) processing (credits: ESA).

Agricultural Monitoring

We are using radar satellite data to improve food security in South America. This was funded by the UK Space Agency and is in collaboration with Environmental SystemsLtd and Aberystwyth University.

Land Management

We are using satellite imagery to develop change detection methodologies for land use management and flood detection. These maps are useful tools for governments to perform risk assessment. This work is in collaboration with the German Aerospace Agency (DLR) and the University of Alicante.

Iceberg detection

We recently proposed a novel iceberg detector able to identify medium size icebergs in satellite radar imagery. This is important for safe navigation of Polar Regions, saving goods and lives, and avoiding ecological disasters. This is a collaboration with the Arctic University of Norway.

Iceberg detection satellite images

Iceberg detection using Sentinel-1 images (data courtesy of ESA). (a) HV intensity images showing the coast of East Greenland (on the right) and several icebergs (small bright spots) embedded in sea ice; (b) Same data after filtering with the iDPolRAD algorithm (the bright dots represent grounded icebergs).

Ocean pollution

We use satellite imagery to detect pollutants on the ocean surface. This monitoring is important in the attempt of cleaning oceans and mitigating the effects of ecological disaster. This project has support from the European Space Agency (ESA) Dragon-4 program and is a large collaboration including the University Parthenope in Italy and Shanghai Ocean University in China.

Ship detection

We are using satellite data to detect small vessels, with special focus on smaller fishing vessels. This is to fight illegal fishing which is threatening ecosystems and the food supply for part of the world population. This work is also included in the ESA Dragon-4 program.

Radar device

Ground based radar, monitoring concrete for observation of buildings

Role in teaching

We recognise the importance of research in improving the quality of the teaching and therefore all our work is fed in several modules taught in the MSc in Space Sciences and Technology and the Electronics curriculum of the BSc in Engineering (Q65). More specifically in the Electronics curriculum our students learn about sensors, radars, signal processing, communications and programming, which are at the core of our research.

Working with us

We value the importance of applied research and have active collaborations with companies in the Space sector. We also offer PhD positions to brilliant students that want to start a career in the Space sector and Earth Observation. If you want to know more about our research, or you are interested in any position we are offering, please email 


Marino, Armando, Trace Coherence: A New Operator for Polarimetric and Interferometric SAR images  (2017). IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 55(4) pp. 2326–2339.
Marino, Armando, Dierking, Wolfgang and Christine, Wesche (2016). A Depolarization Ratio Anomaly Detector to identify icebergs in sea ice using dual-polarization SAR images. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 54(9) pp. 5602–5615
Marino, Armando and Hajnsek, Irena (2014). A change detector based on an optimization with polarimetric SAR imagery. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 52(8) 4781-4798
Marino, Armando (2013). A notch filter for ship detection with polarimetric SAR data. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observation and Remote Sensing, 6(3) pp. 1219–1232; Marino, Armando, Cloude, Shane R. and Lopez-Sanchez, Juan M. (2013). A new polarimetric change detector in radar imagery. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 51(5) 2986 -3000

Key academics