Measuring ground motion from space

Ground motion happens more often than expected. State-of-the-art satellites systematically measure ground movements directly, covering a wide area and with high precision in millimeter-range. The information obtained is particularly important for monitoring infrastructures, buildings and the detection of natural hazards such as landslides.


Satellite-based (SB) InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) is currently the only method with the potential to detect ground motion and deformation (i) precisely and directly (mm accuracy), (ii) large-scale (> 100 km ²) and (iii) over long periods of time (> 1 year, historical archives). SB-InSAR is a proven technology and the first ERS-1 radar satellite was commissioned by the European Space Agency (ESA) back in 1992. Limiting factors then included the low resolution (30 * 30 m) and the long return time of 35 days (reattainment of the starting point). In 2008, the German Earth observation satellite TerraSAR-X was put into operation, which already achieved a resolution of 1 * 1 m and a return period of 11 days and is therefore particularly suitable for engineering issues. As part of the Copernicus (EU, ESA) Earth Observation programme, data from Sentinel satellites have been available almost worldwide and free of charge since 2014. The Sentinel-1 satellites reach a resolution of 20 * 5 meters (IW mode) and a return time of 6 days. Currently there are just around a dozen In-SAR satellites and the trend is rising sharply.


Together with our partner TRE ALTAMIRA, the world leader in satellite-based detection of ground movements, we founded the InSAR Competence Center. TRE ALTAMIRA has developed, among other things, the industry standard for extracting displacement measurements from satellite data. Our partner has extensive experience over many years and is equipped with the most modern infrastructure for the automatic processing of huge amounts of data.


It is our common goal to develop innovative InSAR applications based on state-of-the-art technologies. The entire life cycle of infrastructures and structures (from planning to demolition) is considered, among other things, in order to generate the greatest possible added value. In the field of natural hazards, the focus is on alpine spaces, where steep rock faces, changing snow and vegetation conditions make data analysis and interpretation difficult.


Do you have challenging application cases and want to discuss potential ideas or develop new applications with a motivated team? – We look forward to a personal conversation, you can reach us via phone: + 43 662 251851 or email: