The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLVIII-M-2-2023
26 Jun 2023
 | 26 Jun 2023


M. Virelli, A. Coletta, D. Tapete, and F. Cigna

Keywords: Cultural heritage, Built heritage, Archaeological sites, COSMO-SkyMed, Synthetic Aperture Radar, Satellite, Monitoring

Abstract. COSMO-SkyMed is the flagship Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite constellation of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) that, among the many civilian applications for which it was originally conceived, is nowadays successfully exploited for cultural heritage applications. Current capabilities offered by both the First and Second Generations satellites are reviewed in light of the experience undertaken by ASI through data exploitation initiatives with scientific and commercial users, and more importantly in the framework of institutional projects and cooperation agreements such as those with the Colosseum Archaeological Park and the Italian Ministry of Culture (MiC). The interferometric nature of COSMO-SkyMed SAR acquisitions is the key feature exploited in structural and ground deformation monitoring of monuments and historical buildings, so as the constellation is currently the essential Earth Observation asset supporting MiC’s Extraordinary Plan of Monitoring and Conservation of Immovable Cultural Heritage. Further applications that could be enabled by COSMO-SkyMed data are explored through internal ASI research activity, such as the use of high resolution Digital Elevation Models (DEM) for topographic surveying of archaeological tells and condition assessment to estimate the impact due to natural and anthropogenic threats (e.g. looting, agriculture, destruction). Finally, current perspectives towards operational use and greater user uptake of COSMO-SkyMed for purposes of scientific downstream are opened by the new ASI programme Innovation for Downstream Preparation for Science (I4DP_SCIENCE).