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RHEA Investigates Critical Infrastructures Security Monitoring Using SAR for ESA

RHEA System S.p.A is leading the 12-month MIDAS project that will use innovative radar processing methodologies to measure mechanical vibrations in critical infrastructures to reveal potential failures.

Funded by the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Centre for Earth Observation (ESRIN), the MIDAS project will verify novel algorithms through a set of use cases and develop a roadmap towards a commercial service.

Aerial view of flyover bridge

Based on its expertise in complex system engineering and Earth observation (EO) data processing, RHEA System S.p.A is leading the MIDAS (Micro-Doppler Infrastructure Stability Assessment using SAR) project, funded by ESA, ESRIN. The project aims to develop pioneering data processing methodologies for synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to measure mechanical vibrations that could reveal system failures in critical infrastructures such as roads, railway bridges, gas pipelines or high voltage powerlines.

The satellite radar signal returned from a stationary structure on Earth will show a frequency shift due to the Doppler effect caused by the movement of the satellite. Any mechanical vibrations or rotations within that structure can induce a further modulation in the signal, generating what are known as micro-Doppler effects. While some infrastructures might naturally vibrate, in others, those mechanical vibrations might indicate one or more inherent failures, which could be revealed by undertaking in-depth analyses of their micro-Doppler signatures.

The MIDAS project will demonstrate how innovative micro-Doppler techniques can be developed and validated, and what activities need to be carried out to develop an operational service using these techniques. In the project, RHEA is in charge of verifying the results of the micro-Doppler algorithms that are being developed, which includes defining a suitable methodology and setting up the verification environment. If needed, the algorithms will be refined through a set of use cases. Finally, RHEA will produce a roadmap detailing a path to operational maturity and eventual commercialization.


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