Data Products from Space-based Imagery

June 3, 2016


CSST will exploit existing space-based imagery as a means of researching and developing tailored products in concert with, and to service, New Zealand’s regional industries and, in particular, to support decision-making in a number of sectors of the New Zealand economy. Research and development activities fostered by CSST will construct layers of products and services of increasing added value that transition from data to information to knowledge. An indicative example of the so called product pyramid is shown below:


  • Tier 0 refers to data that may be satellite data, whether existing or new, as well as other ancillary data needed to create desired products, e.g. in situ soil moisture sensor data. The names in the boxes of the product pyramid are names of specific satellites. Where possible the CSST CubeSat programme, to design, build, launch and operate bespoke satellites to provide missing  gap.
  • Tier 1 will build directly from Tier 0 data, e.g. Tier 0 SMAP and SMOS data are used to generate relatively low resolution soil moisture maps based on RADAR data or Tier 0 Sentinel 2 and Landsat 8 data are used as input to the SEBAL algorithm to derive a high resolution (though not particularly timely) soil moisture map product.
  • Tier 2 will build on those in Tier 1 e.g. high resolution, near-real-time mapping of soil moisture across New Zealand (4D-Var Soil Moisture) built on the RADAR and SEBAL soil moisture maps.
  • Tier 3 will build on those in Tier 2, e.g. the combination of timely and detailed knowledge of soil moisture, together with wind conditions and pasture growth rates can be combined to determine appropriate timing and application rates of nitrogen fertiliser.


Because developing these products will require considerable research, half of the CSST financial resources will be invested in producing data products from space based imagery. Researching new ways to exploit existing and new space-based measurements to derive data products that will be useful to New Zealand’s regional industries will be an ongoing process.

CSST will develop data products in collaboration with industry members in a number of fields including but not limited to:


Product and Service Development Process

All products and services will be developed collaboratively between CSST and other parties. CSST sees its role as an enabler, providing ideas, creating research and development teams from multiple organisations, and providing project management. This activity will develop and cement relationships with researcher providers. The intent is that allied industry partners will be the marketers, sellers and distributors of products and providers of services so that CSST will not be distracted from its research and development coordination focus.

All product and/or service concepts will be tested against the following criteria before being advanced to a development phase:

  • Does the product/service capitalise on the availability of satellite data?
  • Does the product/service have clear potential to provide long-term financial revenue?
  • Does the product/service address a need of regional industries?
  • What is financial contributions, both in cash and in-kind, have been committed to by the partnering organisation?

If these initial selection criteria are met, a more thorough assessment of the viability of the product/service is conducted. During this 3-6 month phase, the necessary market surveys, due diligence, resource requirements, industry co-funding support, and time frames will be assessed. This phase will emphasise and solidify connections with regional industry. Costs for this assessment phase are expected to be shared between the collaborating organisation and CSST under a formal agreement.

If the assessment suggests development of the product/service proceeds, an optimal team will be pulled together by CSST likely comprising participants from universities, CRIs, other research organisations, CSST personnel, and personnel from the partner organisation. Where participants external to CSST are brought into the team, their time is paid for by CSST under contract to their employer.

Expected costs for the research and development phase are also expected to be shared between CSST and the partner organisation with CSST bearing the majority of the development cost. In return, CSST will negotiate a revenue-sharing model for each product/service, where both CSST and its partner will receive a return once the product/service is commercialised. CSST may provide support during the operational phase of product delivery or provision of service which will either be paid for directly or on the basis of a greater revenue share, negotiated at the outset of the project.

If you have a product or service idea, which you want to develop with CSST, please contact us at  for further information.