ESA title


  • ACTIVITYFeasibility Study
  • STATUSOngoing
  • THEMATIC AREAInfrastructure & Smart Cities, Safety & Security, Food & Agriculture, Environment, Wildlife and Natural Resources

Objectives of the service

Background Image: Milad Fakurian - Unsplash

The objectives of this Feasibility Study are, from one side, to validate in commercial environment, the business model of very high-resolution images gathering with a simplified version of a small and reusable High-Altitude Pseudo-Satellite, called CubeHAPS®, and from the other side to raise the Technology Readiness Level of the advanced version of the CubeHAPS®, that, besides improved payload and flight performance, enables the swarm operation mode.

The users’ key problems concern the limited temporal and spatial resolution of the acquired satellite imagery: a more flexible and less expensive technology for data gathering is required for customized services and more frequent fast-response scenarios. There is a missing layer of space-based services located in the middle between the satellites and airborne solutions.

The solution proposed enables near-real-time monitoring from the stratosphere at regional level, with advanced earth monitoring products, including improved images with super-resolution techniques, 3D digital terrain maps in near-real-time and SAR datasets. The images are sold at very competitive pricing to other businesses and institutions with the similar channels used by satellite data services providers, as the solution can be used in synergy with existing infrastructures.

Users and their needs

The users involved in the STREAMO Feasibility Study, are of two kinds:

  • The companies and institutions that have the capacity and the knowledge on how to process raw datasets and extrapolate useful information. These are downstream companies of the Earth Observation market and the environmental and civil protection agencies.

  • The companies and institutions that just need the value-added information from the images, with minimum knowledge of data processing.

The users' needs are:

  • more affordable datasets compared to satellites and drones. 

  • higher spatial and temporal resolution compared to satellites. 

  • a more flexible solution for data gathering.

The project challenges to meet the above needs are the following:

  • weights constraints for some type of sensors 

  • long lasting missions with high station-keeping capability over a specific target. 

The targeted users, for this study, are all located in Italy.

Service/ system concept

Credits: Mountain Picture is of NOAA Property, Unsplash License.

The end-users are supplied with very-high resolution images, coming from three different operations:

  • datasets generated with super-resolution algorithms.

  • 3D digital terrain models in near-real-time.

  • Synthetic Aperture RADAR (SAR) images.

The customer can ask an on-demand flight or gather the products from the archive, at different pricing.

Two of the main features are the CubeHAPS® capability to operate flexibly (can be used in different periods of day) and rapidly (maximum few hours) in different scenarios, using different types of payloads, too.

Once the service will be deployed, the users will have the possibility to gather advanced earth monitoring products with the maximum of flexibility and rapidity, in near-real time, with very low pricing.

Space Added Value

The space assets used during this Project are very beneficial for the technology, operations and final product developments.

The space assets used are:

  • GNSS sensors: to check in real-time the platforms positions and to predict the remaining flight trajectory, and on the other side, to add valuable information to images metadata, used to georeference the images after the acquisition.

  • Satellite modem for telemetry, with a Short Burst Messaging Service, as a backup for position check and for command imparting.

  • World Coverage Map from Copernicus Program, by using the maps to decide the safe landing areas.

  • Global Forecast System (GFS) model for the winds, pressures, and temperatures forecast, to implement a predictor that calculates and shows the trajectory of the platform, during the simulated and real missions.

  • Copernicus datasets as reference layer for the stratospheric datasets, during the data processing. Useful also to test the super-resolution algorithms.

  • The use of SAR Satellites in LEO (e.g., Sentinel 1a/1c) as a “Transmitter”, while a swarm of CubeHAPS® as “Recievers”, improving the SAR datasets spatial and temporal resolution. The STREAMO Project is still studying this peculiar configuration and its feasibility, in terms of system requirements, is not confirmed yet.

Current Status

Current status: Project's Progress Meeting 1 Milestone achieved.

STREAMO current status

Today, from the technological point of view, we are testing a performant RGB camera, with dedicated flights. The picture above is a very high-resolution image taken by the stratospheric platform in October 2023, in the northwestern of Italy. The flight was performed with first version of CubeHAPS, with no datalink present on board.

Furthermore, we studied all the possible configurations for the multistatic RADAR, and defined the datasets post-processing pipeline, including the analysis of the available tools to perform the super-resolution algorithms.

Today the consortium held two workshops with a potential customer. The results are that their willingness to pay increased and we are almost defined a potential site of product testing.

Status Date

Updated: 24 November 2023