Space Division Website
May 2005
Issue n. 04
ACS website

It has been long time since you last heard from us. Many things have happened: we have stories of sorrow and success to account

  • A sad tribute: Gastone Trevisiol former ACS president and CEO passed away on 23rd of April 2004, after a brief illness. A year after his death, we from ACS pay tribute and remember him with affection…
  • ACS works on two contracts concerning design and development of four SAR Processors and Acquisition Facility for Cosmo SkyMed ground system.
  • It started with RIADE and will continue with DesertWatch
  • ACS applied for a patent!
  • Since January 2004 ACS provides around the clock support service for CCISS (Italian Centre for Information on Roads and Safety Coordination) …
  • In mid 2004, the French Space Agency (CNES) has contracted ACS to supply the reprocessing subsystem of the Long Term Archive (LTA) for the CryoSat Program.
  • In 2003, Italian Space Agency (ASI) issued an invitation to tender for a series of short term feasibility studies/preliminary projects aiming at design of the applications based on EO derived products.
  • Data Mining to find the images in EO Archives ...
  Cosmo SkyMed contracts

The Cosmo – SkyMed (Constellation of Small Satellites for Mediterranean basin observation) is ASI's (Italian Space Agency) Earth Observation program. The four future Cosmo – SkyMed satellites will acquire SAR images for both civilian and military user categories.

All four SAR Processors: (Stripmap, Alternate Polarisation [Ping Pong], Geocoding for all SAR modes and products, Real Time Quick Look for all SAR modes) have been developed following the specifications entirely defined by ACS. Currently they are undergoing in house validation testing. The Stripmap Processor will soon be ready for on site installation and acceptance by the Customer.


Acquisition Facility is in charge of a real time acquisition of the satellite data downlink from the X band antenna, CCSDS formatting/decrypting of the acquired data, local storage and cataloguing).

Acquisition Facility Build 1 (the first version) has been successfully delivered to the Customer in March. Activities for the development of the Build 2 (final version) are in progress. The final release of the system will be installed in Civilian and Defence UGS (User Ground Segments) as well as in the Civilian and Defence mobile stations.


A new contribution to fight the plague affecting more than 250 million people in the world is what ESA DesertWatch aims at. A user oriented, standardised, operational application using Earth Observation data should facilitate reporting on degradation in arid and dry areas.

Some of RIADE technologies, procedures and tools experimented or developed to study desertification processes will be implemented to support monitoring desertification trends in four of the countries that signed UNCCD convention.

Find more about the project's objectives, project team, products, relevant links at

  Patent application

Target definition: the system extracts the coordinates of a lesion in the eye. Following the identification of an eye lesion, the system allows automatic control of laser pointing and tracking functions during the treatment.

In the framework of LIVIA (LIbrary for Artificial VIsion) research project funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research – M.I.U.R. we faced the challenges relative to the treatment of digital images in real time.

Transmitted by different sensors (cameras, scanners, radars, etc.) to support commercial applications (medical, environmental, non-destructive controls) they ask for particular architectural solutions and information management tools.

The project culminated in the realisation of a SW prototype for innovative automation of ophthalmological interventions. Its main function is to provide an interactive interface between digital angiograph and the laser, offering the possibility to bring closer the phases of diagnostics and therapy.

Some of the prototype’s salient features are at the basis of the patent application.

  CCISS Support Service

It consist in running the application for ‘Travel Informed' video news broadcasted every half an hour by Italian State Television (RAI).

Through the specially developed graphical interface the ACS application contacts the central database where all information relative to traffic in Italy is stored. The output (road event) is precisely localised, in real time, on a vector road map.

The latter is superimposed on 3D graphical representation of Italian territory also created by ACS from satellite images

Road narrows from left

  CryoSat GTS Processor

CryoSat model

The subsystem developed by ACS named GTS ("Gestionnaire des Traitements Scientifiques") has been integrated with the GDD ("Gestionnaire de Données et de Diffusion") developed by CNES.
In the LTA system, GDD is in charge of data retrieval and of the management of the permanent archive at CNES, interfacing STAF archive system, while the GTS, following the GDD file transfer (via FTP), performs the nominal Cryosat Science Data processing. GTS is installed at CNES Toulouse on dedicated PC Linux platforms (including 1 Tbyte of online disks).

The two teams, from ACS and CNES, have produced a modular and optimised design, based on simple and very well defined interfaces. This approach has brought ACS to deliver successfully and in time the first GTS release (version 1.0) in December 2004. The GTS release currently installed at CNES (version 2.1) includes the new Instrument Science Processor (IPF Vd) for both Level 1B and Level 2 Products.

  ASI short term studies for EO applications

Each assessed the state of the art relative to the thematic chosen as to identify the most appropriated EO techniques and technologies to use.

All provided theoretical demonstration of technical and programmatic feasibility. The latter were addressed through the definition of project realisation plans, schedules and development costs for the implementation phase.

ACS has participated in seven of them as either a Prime or a Subcontractor.


The team lead by ACS elaborated a proposal for the construction of an Italian Acquisition, Processing and Archiving Centre for data Handling and Exchange (APACHE) that would satisfy the current and future needs of the Italian Institutional and Scientific Communities.

(Fighting Floods with a help of Earth Observation products) presented a system for monitoring floods with EO derived products.

(Integrated system for monitoring and foreseeing hydrocarbons pollution in Mediterranean basin) has defined main application elements to demonstrate the scenario proposed.

System for the seismic risk management using Remote Sensing data
showed how to combine Earth Observation data and in-situ measurements for the management of the seismic risk.

System for the volcanic risk management using Remote Sensing data
proposed how to use the remote sensing data and processing techniques for monitoring active volcanic site parameters.

(System for SAR data interpretation) reviewed the use of radar data elaboration and analysis algorithms/models for development of new applications.

How to realise a Communication network between ASI operational and future centres? ASINet study proposed a solution.

  Data Mining for EO Images

Prototype user interface

Now you can. Thanks to a series of ESA funded K projects: KIM, KES, KIMV and KEO carried out by ACS, German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ).

The results from the first three were summarised in a prototype currently implemented in a semi-operational environment at ESRIN, CNES and EUSC.

The prototype permits the user to select archived EO images on the basis of the image information content. Lets say you need to find particular objects/structures (bridges, clouds, rivers…) on the archived EO images. Forget about geographical location, time of acquisition or type of sensor.This information is simply insufficient for your purposes.

Now imagine being able to interactively explore the content of the images, to combine information from a single image type or multi-sensor observations, identify the nature of the structures observed in a scene and retrieve the images containing similar objects.This has been made possible also thanks to a new hierarchical image segmentation algorithm developed by ACS SW engineers.


Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between three consortium partners, the KES prototype now awaits for commercialisation.


He is with us every time we enter the offices in the morning. And we think of him when working late. When sitting in front of a computer or attending a meeting, we expect him to walk in just to say hi or engage in small talk, to make us realise in his own tongue in cheek but affectionate way, that after all a company is made of people and personal contacts.

He used to say that ACS was a winning team. These words have given us strength to keep on going allied by a unique legacy: his spirit of initiative, so original and bold. Which we promise to cherish and convey. Because we owe him that much. And because we couldn’t do otherwise

Gastone Trevisiol