The Matera Space Centre was created as part of national and international network of centres and teleports operated by Telespazio (Finmeccanica/Thales), and has been operational since 1994. It is located next to the Space Geodesy Centre of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), opened in 1983. Since 2009, the centre has been managed by e-GEOS, a joint venture between ASI (20%) and Telespazio (80%). It is dedicated to Earth observation activities and also provides operational services for the Space Geodesy Centre.
The Matera Space Centre acquires, processes, stores and distributes remotely-sensed data from the main Earth observation satellites, and also produces images, products and services in near real time for maritime surveillance.
In particular, the Centre contributed to the design, integration and testing of the civil ground segment data of the Italian radar satellite constellation COSMO-SkyMed, for which it has provided operation and maintenance service since the launch of the first satellite in 2007.
Since 2012, the Matera Space Centre has been one of the four stations of the Core Ground Segment of the European Space Agency (ESA) for the reception and processing in real-time of radar and optical data acquired by Sentinel satellites within Copernicus, the European Earth observation programme.
The main activities conduced at the Matera Space Centre are Earth observation and geodesy.
From the Matera Space Centre, e-GEOS provides Earth observation services and products to major clients and public and private partners.
On behalf of the Italian Space Agency, it operates the italian civil ground segment (I-CUGS) of the COSMO-SkyMed satellite constellation, and operations for the second-generation COSMO satellites are currently being prepared. e-GEOS staff also conduct the operations of the Multimission National Centre, with which the ASI acquires, precesses and stores the data of various international satellite missions.
For the European Space Agency (ESA), it acquires, processes, stores and distributes data for various ESA and international satellite missions, including ERS-1, ERS-2, ENVISAT, ALOS, MODIS, JERS, Landsat-5, Landsat-7 and MOS-1. Since January 2014, it has also provided data services for the Landsat-8 observation mission.
With the forthcoming launches of Sentinel satellites, managed by ESA on behalf of the European Commission within the Copernicus programme, it will provide ground segments services in near rela-time relating to radar and multispectral sensors for the monitoring of the Earth, the oceans and the atmosphere.
For the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), it acquires and processes Radarsat and COSMO-SkyMed data, and provides maritime surveillance services (oil spill and vessel detection). The information sent to EMSA, within 30 minutes of the satellite passing, enables oil pollution in the sea to be monitored and ships conducing illegal activities to be identified.
e-GEOS is head of the service for the entire Mediterranean Basin and the Black Sea.
Finally, in relation to e-GEOS contracts with national and international public and private end users, the Matera SPace Centre conducts value-addes data processing activities, including orthocorrection, image mosaicing and extracting digital elevation and terrain models. These activities are conducted using optical and radar data collected by both aircraft and satellites.
Geodesy activities are conducted on behalf of ASI, and include: the operations o the Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), a radio telescope used for geodetic measurements through the observation of remote sources such as Quasars; the operations of the Matera Laser Ranging Observatory (MLRO), used to determine the exact orbits of artificial satellites and make high-precision geodetic measurements; the operations of the Italian GPS Fiducial Network (IGFN), a network of permanent GPS stations created in 1995 to improve GPS data usability over the national territory.
The optical telescope installed at the Geodesy Centre is also used to study the Earth's gravity and observe movements of tectonic plates.