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Laing O'Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology

Processing synthetic aperture radar data to understand earth surface movement. Processed images from European Space Agency (ESA) data.

Rapidly advancing radar satellite imagery technologies can detect millimetre changes on the earth’s surface, opening the door for us to consider monitoring structural movements from space.

The satellite monitoring research group has been established in the Laing O'Rourke Centre by Sakthy Selvakumaran to build upon research into remote sensing for urban environments, specifically the use of satellite imagery for infrastructure monitoring. This includes the use of sensors such as  Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) which is a radar technique using the differences between multiple synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images to create maps of surface deformation. SAR radar waves can penetrate cloud, precipitation and even the darkness of night to create digital images at any time of the day.
Research carried out so far has explored the opportunities and challenges involved in using InSAR satellite imagery for monitoring infrastructure assets and possibly predicting signs of impending failure and collapse - research which was supported by funding from the EPSRC and National Physical Laboratory (NPL), additional funding from the Laing O’Rourke Centre and technical support and data from the German Aerospace Centre (Deutsches Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt, DLR) and Satellite Applications Catapult.

The demonstrated potential of Sakthy’s research attracted significant interest in her plans to carry this research agenda forwards and, using her Isaac Newton Trust/Newnham College Research Fellowship in Engineering award, she is now overseeing the development of this growing research group.

By harnessing the power of industry-academia collaboration and fast-developing satellite based services, this promises to be an exciting and productive new programme. We look forward to reporting on the progress and advances to follow.

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