COREGAL: Combined Positioning-Reflectometry Galileo Code Receiver for Forest Management

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COREGAL, “Combined Positioning-Reflectometry Galileo Code Receiver for Forest Management” aims at biomass estimation by means of GNSS reflectivity measurements (GNSS-R). The project will combine different types of measurement data related with biomass, namely satellite Earth Observation (EO) data (e.g. satellite imagery), regional data (e.g. airborne imagery and GNSS-based remote sensing data) and, when available, local data (in situ ground measurements) to improve current biomass estimation algorithms. In a broad sense, COREGAL and its sister techniques have many environmental and social applications as, for example, carbon mapping and forest management. COREGAL's proposed concept combines different sensors and data processing techniques in an innovative way one of them being GNSS-R. COREGAL is an innovation action under the topic GALILEO-3-2014 of the H2020 programme of the European Commission managed by the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA).

Biomass mapping has gained increased interest for bioenergy, climate research and climate change mitigation activities, such as reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (e.g. the REDD initiative). However, continuous deforestation activity and forest management requires frequent and accurate monitoring which can be expensive and difficult to attain. In Brazil, for example, for that purpose, optical satellite data are typically used by government. However, satellite data, due to cloud coverage, require combination with data from other sources such as in situ and airborne measurements. Satellite radar signals can penetrate clouds but, still today, their spatial resolution is not sufficient.

In COREGAL, a low-cost unmanned fixed-plane unmanned aircraft and service for biomass mapping will allow wide scale mapping in the Brazilian context of forest management. A first of a kind combined Position-Reflectometry Galileo receiver (GNSS-P and GNSS-R) will be developed as main sensor for platform positioning and biomass estimation, the latter using reflected GNSS signals on tree canopies. High positioning accuracy (cm level) is required for surface point reflection determination, which is challenging for remote areas where no GNSS infrastructure is available as in the case of many forests in Brazil. However, Galileo AltBOC E5 signals offer unprecedented pseudorange measurement precision (2 cm) which will be used for novel high-accuracy positioning.

COREGAL is conducted by a consortium of eleven organisations lead by DEIMOS Engenharia. The consortium  brings together universities, research centres, and technological companies from six European countries and Brazil.

In COREGAL, GeoNumerics will be responsible for accurate position, velocity and attitude determination of the unmanned aircraft sensors. For this purpose, geodetic and remote sensing techniques will be integrated and/or developed. On one hand, GeoNumerics will investigate and further advance the art of INS/GNSS integration with the Galileo AltBOC E5 code observables. On the other hand, GeoNumerics will apply direct and integrated methods of sensor position and attitude determination bassed on INS/GNSS and on image co-registration results.

DEIMOS Engenharia is a private aerospace engineering Portuguese company founded in 2002, and a part of the Elecnor Group. Elecnor is a large Spanish group specialised in integrated management and promotion of projects and infrastructure development.

GeoNumerics is a research and development (R&D) intensive small-and-medium-enterprise (SME) company specialised in geomatics and accurate navigation.

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion (80 x 109 €) funding available over the period 2014 to 2020. It couples research and innovation with emphasis on excellent science and industrial leadership, and tackles the EU societal challenges. The H2020 goal is to ensure that Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.

The European Global navigation Satellite system Agency (GSA) is a European Union (EU) agency that promotes the use, adoption, application and market development of European GNSS services and that these services and operations are thoroughly secure, safe and accessible.


Acronym: COREGAL
Title:  Combined Positioning-Reflectometry Galileo Code Receiver for Forest Management
Period: 2015-01-01 to 2016-12-31
Funding: European Global navigation Satellite system Agency (GSA), European Commission (EC) grant 641585, Horizon 2020 (H2020), GALILEO-3-2014
Coordinator: DEIMOS Engenharia, S.A. (PT)
Other participants: DEIMOS Space (ES), GeoNumerics (ES), Fundación Tecnalia Research & Innovation (ES), University of Nottingham (UK), Max Planck Gesellschaft Zur Foerderung Der Wissenschaften E.V. (DE), Gamma Remote Sensing Research and Consulting AG (CH), Univesità Degli Studi di Roma Torvergata (IT), Engemap Engenharia Mapeamento e Aerolevantamento Ltda (BR), Universidade Estadual Paulista – UNESP (BR), Editora Mundo Geo Ltda (BR).


This project has received funding from the European Community's Horizon 2020 Programme under Grant Agreement 641585.