ESA title


  • ACTIVITYFeasibility Study
  • STATUSCompleted

Objectives of the service

The general objective of the feasibility study is to design an "Integrated Spaceborne Site Monitoring" service for Carbon Capture and Storage, partially funded by ESA and supported by a suitable end user.

The spaceborne site monitoring concept integrates different techniques from

  • Satellite Earth Observation,
  • Satellite Navigation,
  • Satellite Communication.

Earth observation and satellite navigation both focus on the derivation of surface movements related to the underground storage of CO2 and related pressure increase in the formation. Satellite communication transfers data from different near-surface and underground monitoring techniques to the headquarters of the operator and potentially also to the authorities.

Users and their needs

Target users are operators of future CO2 storage sites. Through the "remote" character of the investigated service related operators can be addressed worldwide.

Service/ system concept

The service concept will include different components: Earth observation is foreseen to deal with spaceborne radarinterferometry for the derivation of surface movements related to the pressure increase induced by the underground injection of CO2.

Spaceborne navigation will include terrestrial determination of surface movements using DGNSS supplemented by tiltmeters - again for the monitoring of surface movements related to the injection of CO2 in the underground. Spaceborne navigation will be based on the existing GNSS constellations. DGNSS highly complements surface displacement mapping from space and could be used for the comparison of results and validation. Furthermore, an integrated use of both technologies could be considered as DGNSS information can be used for supporting radarinterferometric processing. The latter needs to be confirmed during the project.

Spaceborne communication will be used to transfer monitoring data from the CO2 storage site acquired through geophysical sensors mounted on the surface or in boreholes to the operator's headquarters using secure, high speed satellite data communications.

Space Added Value

The proposed service concept provides various "space related" benefits: On the one hand the Earth Observation Component provides wider areal information on surface movements related to the operation of the CO2 storage site compared with conventional monitoring techniques. This information can be used to optimize on site terrestrial sensor grids and is thus useful to also reduce monitoring costs. The spaceborne navigation component provides high accuracy information on surface movements at specific locations, which ideally complements the spaceborne determination of surface movements. Spaceborne communication for the wireless transfer of monitoring data between the CO2 storage site and the headquarters has the benefit of avoiding cost intensive installations for terrestrial infrastructure like fibre optical cables. This is especially valid in those cases where CO2 storage sites are far away from existing data networks, e.g. also mobile phone networks. Also, this has a strong value in areas, where hardware installations for data transfers are subject to manipulation or even destruction.

Current Status

The project team has finished the work on all study tasks (user requirements definition, state-of-the-art analysis and system specification, proof of concept, viability analysis and finally  implementation roadmap and recommendations). All deliverables have been accepted by ESA.

In view of the current unfavourable economic and political conditions for CCS in Europe, a detailed plan has been elaborated within the implementation roadmao task for a careful monitoring of the market conditions, aiming at starting a demonstration project when the regulatory / economic environment are appropriate.. In this context, further evaluation meetings are scheduled in the near future to understand the situation and react accordingly.

Status Date

Updated: 21 March 2012