Space & Security

Space & Security

The main ambition in Space and Security domain is to ensure the well being and security of societies and citizens by exploiting suitable space assets. Established this objective, experts in Earth Observation and imagery analysis work together at SatCen to ensure that the provided geospatial intelligence products and services comply with the highest quality level to support informed decision-making in the security domain.


An important value provided by Earth Observation datasets is the possibility to identify certain features or changes on the Earth’s surface at various spatial and temporal scales. Change Detection is a transversal technique supporting the monitoring of urban, built-up and natural environments by identifying relevant changes within areas of interest. This way, this Space and Security Innovation pilot focuses on supporting SatCen improvement of capabilities in three key areas:


  1. The design and development of Earth Observation processing algorithms to detect changes in pairs of Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 images that help to characterize changes occurring on the Earth’s surface, maximizing the opportunities offered by these data sources
  2. The implementation of the algorithms with several degrees of automatization to allow the launch of the monitoring tasks and the automatic generation of the change maps, within a pre-defined or continuous period of time
  3. The assessment of the benefits of working in Cloud infrastructures to deploy, test and upscale Earth Observation processing services and to access and catalogue results


In short, the key challenge faced by the Space and Security Innovation pilot is to improve the capacity to access, process and analyse this huge amount of heterogeneous data to provide decision-makers with trustful, timely and useful information, what has been possible through NextGEOSS project. The pilot builds on the results of the activities performed by SatCen in the framework of two Horizon 2020 projects: BigDataEurope (Integrating Big Data, Software & Communities for Addressing Europe’s Societal Challenges) and EVER-EST (European Virtual Environment for Research – Earth Science Themes).



Testimonial by Paula Saameno, Project Manager at SatCen


Space and Security innovation pilot developed two different change detection applications, one using Sentinel-1 and the other using Sentinel-2 images. The pilot allows the user to execute the provided services on specified areas of interest, generally ranging from local to the regional level. Specifically, for the validation and verification of the pilot, SatCen has run the applications in two different areas of interest:


  • The Sentinel-1 Amplitude Change Detection application was successfully tested on Niger, in order to detect changes in urban environments in a mostly desertic region
  • The Sentinel-2 Multispectral Change Detection application was used to monitor the construction of the COVID-19 hospital in the province of Wuhan (China), in view of assessing that the actual construction was done during the period announced

The input data for the Space and Security Innovation pilot are Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 imagery, which is systematically harvested by NextGEOSS and made available to SatCen over the specified AoI and time intervals.


  • In the case of Sentinel-1, Level-1 GRD IW (Interferometric Wide Swath) products are used
  • In the case of Sentinel-2, Level-2A products are used

The first-layer users of the services developed within the Space and Security pilot would be SatCen imagery analysts who, thanks to NextGEOSS could provide a better service in the future to the final users belonging to the Space and Security community.


In the future, NextGEOSS and the applications developed within this pilot could serve as a collaborative framework for players interested in similar topics and results, fostering the engagement and/or enlargement of the user community. Special focus is put on the collaboration within the GEO Space and Security Community Activity.


See more information and join the GEO Space and Security Community Activity here.

Explore NextGEOSS Space and Security community portal to access the pilot services. The portal has restricted access, please send a requested to

The Space and Security pilot output results are maps with the detected changes highlighted for each pair of images processed. This provides the capability to automatically detect changes in Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 images within a period and, thus, to put the focus of the analyst on the relevant parts of the image in which changes are detected. This facilitates the tasks of the imagery analysis when loads of images over an area are available.


Learn more about the pilot results at NextGEOSS Catalogue/Thematic Areas/Space and Security. You can explore the pilot data sets at Crop Monitoring for Space and Security Innovation Pilot outputs.


Other relevant resources can be found at GitHub Code Repository and Pilot Resources Dashboard.