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SpaceInfo Club had the great pleasure to meet part of the IRIDE Team and the following are a few questions we made to Engineer Marco Casucci, who is responsible for the increase of adoption of Earth Observation in Local Public Administration under the IRIDE Project.

In the context of the NextGenerationEU program, under which lies the Italian National Plan for Recovery and Resilience (PNRR), the Italian Government funded the IRIDE project. Thanks to its great ability and experience over the past decades, ESA was delegated by the Italian Government to develop, both under the contractual and technical point of view, the IRIDE Project together with the support of the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

At the end of this mandate, the whole project will be handed back to its proprietary, the Italian Government, which will distribute the generated data to public and private companies, as we are going to see today.

Upon its completion, in 2026, the constellation will be able to count on more than 60 satellites that will be able to observe Italy by exploiting a variety of observation techniques and the ability to completely cover the country with a daily observation frequency. Furthermore, flying over the planet in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), the ground sampling distance of the optical images will be around two meters. But this is only an introduction to what we are going to talk about... if you want to know more about how IRIDE will work in terms of Space and Ground segments as well as the technology of each satellite let us know on our website ( or contact us via our socials.

Nowadays, how important is Earth observation, particularly related to prevention and prompt action against catastrophic climate scenarios (e.g. floods)?

"To this question, another one can be asked to better define a framework: why do we need to place objects into orbit? - says Marco Casucci - We have airplanes and UAV, couldn't we use them? An immediate, but deeply true answer is given: it may seem counterintuitive, but the cost of data from satellites are much cheaper in several domains (e.g. forestry, land use, environment monitoring etc.) for repeated Earth observation than airplanes and UAV data. Think about the physics, you need some amount of energy (read: fuel) to launch satellites into orbit and then a relatively small amount of fuel to keep them 'on track' while soaring our planet. This orbital motion can be iterated for months or, as usually happens, years. If this was made by means of an airplane a huge amount of operational costs (i.e fuel, pilots, logistic, etc) would be needed as well as a hugely large fleet of vehicles to simultaneously fly over a country like Italy to constantly monitor its surface. You can easilyfigure out that this is unsustainable. Satellitesalso fly much higher than airplanes,something like ten or twenty times thealtitude. Even though they are capable of ahighly detailed observation of the groundsatellites can observe physical phenomenahappening above the usual flying routes ofairplanes, which means that mostmeteorological observations can only bemade by satellites. As long as agricultural andforest development is regarded, only the widevision capability of a satellite allows a small tovery-large scale of monitoring. Under theindustrial point of view, developing such alarge and highly technological project has ahuge impact on the industry, which is notrestricted to the local one. Developing thiskind of business extends the scale along allthe production chain, which is a flagship toItaly. Let's try to think about the productionoperation and maintenance of thisconstellation. First, satellites must bedesigned, then built and launched. All thesesteps are fully covered by Italian companies and highly skilled people, whose contribution is fundamental. Then, also the launch phases, as well as commissioning and operation must be considered"

- Note: we have written a dedicated article about the typical phases of a space mission: give a look at our members area to know more! -

"Also these parts of the process will distribute huge value to the territory, companies and people who will take part to the project.Worth noticing is the fact that all these capabilities, both under the technical and business stand points, will be highly reusable in future projects, inside of a international strongly expanding sector. Thinking of the specific case of Italy, there is a strong presence of mountains, which favors hydrogeological risk, a risk that can be monitored over time through a constellation of satellites. Another example of evolution monitoring is the higher frequency of peak natural events such as strong precipitations, floods or, on the other side, persistent drought. Strongly related to this phenomena is the land movement, which is in close interaction with the so called anthropogenic pressure, which quantifies the human presence (e.g. buildings) on a designated piece of land."

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