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About this book

The book focuses on the topic of trends and challenges with regards to satellite-based earth observation. Contributors include legal experts in the field and representatives from institutions such as the European Space Agency, the European Space Policy Institute, academia and the private sector.

Table of Contents


Earth Observation and Its Multidimensional Application


The European Space Agency’s Earth Observation Programme

The European Space Agency started managing an Earth Observation Programme in 1977 with the launch of its first meteorological satellite, Meteosat. Over the decades this has grown into a world-class fleet of satellites addressing a wide range of science and applications. More recently, ESA has embarked on the world’s most ambitious Earth Observation programme to date: Copernicus, with currently six series of Sentinels.

Wolfgang Rathgeber

From Art Space to Outer Space—The Experiment ARTSAT

Artsat is in its last consequence a complete artwork of a new style, in definition the orbit as cultural area. Representative for the citizens of the world an artist shook the cosmonaut’s hand in space via electronics. The cosmonaut on his part sent after one full orbit a message to earth. A piano and a robotics were conducted by this message.

Richard Kriesche

Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects of Satellite-Based Earth Observation


An Introduction

Earth observation (EO) is the gathering of information about the planet Earth’s physical, chemical and biological systems by using remote sensing technologies supplemented by earth surveying techniques, encompassing the collection, analysis and presentation of data.

Hannes Mayer

Strategic Aspects from the European Union’s Point of View

With its provision of space data and information from its services, the Union’s Earth Observation and Monitoring Programme Copernicus represents a European success story. The Space Strategy for Europe, adopted at end of 2016, sets also important accents for action for Copernicus in the coming years. The main strategic aspects of this strategy, especially with respect to Earth Observation are presented, as well as first preparatory steps towards the new funding period after 2020.

Peter Breger

Space and Security: Earth Observation Between the Priorities of Civilian and Military Use

September 11, 2001 marks the date when the power of Earth imagery became obvious to the general public for the first time. Due to the terror attacks on the World Trade Centers and other sites, all airplanes were banned from the US skies for several days. Consequently it was up to Earth Observation satellites like IKONOS and others to provide exclusive images of “Ground Zero”. These images made but one thing clear to everyone: space is not only a place for science and exploration, but enables also an important security dimension. To the space expert this was clear right from the beginning, when science and reconnaissance were the main drivers behind the first missions into space. At the beginning, spy satellites were already an important tool to observe the enemy, but when the USSR shot down F. Gary Powers’ U-2 in 1960, spy satellites became the primary utility of choice. Consequently spy satellite activities increased, cumulating into several generations of reconnaissance satellites, one more performant than the other. The latest generation of optical imaging satellites features resolutions better than 10 cm and is complemented by radar based systems. Spy satellites tracked military movements, were instrumental in assessing the “bomber gap” and provided insights into the planning of the cold war adversaries. In the end, one may even argue that it was due to the spy satellites that the cold war remained cold and never turned into a hot war. Triggered by the success of spy satellites, the security dimension of space increased over time. Today, space is used for navigation, space reconnaissance (esp. ICBMs), control of own ICBMs and long range guided missiles, communication purposes, early warning, and more. Dual-use is the buzzword of the hour, exemplified by the fact that the military reconnaissance function has inherited a civilian brother dubbed Earth Observation, which provides for urban planning, environmental monitoring and protection, tracking applications, etc.—Europe’s Copernicus programme is a showcase for the dual-use character of Earth Observation. As applications and services in the space and security domain have increased, so have the number of players. Today, Earth Observation is one of the most vibrant application domains in space—serving both civilian and military users. This paper addresses the various priorities, concepts and systems that were and maintain instrumental for the success of Earth Observation and will continue to shape its future.

Norbert Frischauf

General Overview—Economic Aspects

Space offers an important insight to understand the Earth and to improve our lives. Satellite Earth Observation (EO)Earth Observation (EO) can benefit many areas of society, including environment and resources management, agricultureAgriculture, food security, transportTransport, just to mention few of them. EO satellites supply data can be used as tools to contribute to the sustainable economic development in the remote areas of the world. This contribution aims at offering an overview of the factors that characterize the EO market and the relative consequences, drawing a picture of the existing EO services with socio-economic benefits for the society. In addition, the contribution presents a brief overview on the commercialization of earth observation data and the economic influence of private actors on the EO domain. In conclusion, the paper offers an insight on the possible steps that Europe should take to improve the European governance and to create the adequate framework of operation for private and public actors involved in EO operational activities, to help the creation of an industrial policy for the EO services and to stimulate the public demand at European level.

Alessandra Vernile


In this paper about robocopters the author discusses the challenges of the integration of robotics, artificial intelligence, digitalisation, virtualisation and multicopter aviation technologies driven by the consumer market. After a linguistic decomposition of the word robocopter the robocopter will be defined as a “flying tool” or “flying robot” using, as a multicopter, the typical aviation technologies of a helicopter. A comparison shows the current differences between helicopters and typical unmanned multicopters. From an economic perspective, the quadcopter is most successful as a camera drone, driven by hobbyists like drone racers and photographers. With the use of first-person-view (FPV) glasses during a flight a philosophical dimension occurs, because, in our consciousness, the idea arises that “I am flying” instead of the drone. In Austria, a license from the Austro Control agency is necessary to legally store pictures and videos on a microchip on a drone; therefore, the legal regulations for drones are discussed in a short overview. Robocopters as flying tools with an extended level on autonomy are the next step in automation. But there is also a danger, especially in military applications discussed and shown in various video examples.

Wolfgang Schinagl

Application of Satellite-Based Earth Observation


An Introduction

In Daniel Kehlmanns novel “Measuring the World” which takes place at the end of the 18th century, the two brilliant scientists Alexander von Humboldt (natural scientist) and Carl Friedrich Gauß (geodesist and mathematician) had to explore the earth without the help of satellites. Today, of course, a life without satellites is almost unthinkable. The weather forecast, television, air traffic, the car navigationNavigation system, disaster managementDisaster management and climate research are only a few examples of how much satellites make our lives easier and help us to master certain problems and challenges.

Gerhard Schnedl

Earth Observation in Agriculture

Different types of satellite information have found their way into agriculture in the past few decades. Starting from “precision farming”, using GNSS signals for guidance and auto-steering, farming practices are now shifting towards “smart farming”, using Earth Observation data for information-guided agriculture. Most currently available satellite-based services on the market focus on the analysis of optical remotely sensed data, even though radar data and thermal data also find application. An overview is given on the different types of data and information that can be derived from them, as well as the combination with advanced crop growth modelling. The example of nutrient management is used to showcase how satellite images can support agricultural management through the whole growing season.

Silke Migdall, Lena Brüggemann, Heike Bach

Remote Sensing for Alpine Forest Monitoring

Forest areas cover large parts of the Alps. In the mountains, the main functions of the forests are referring to the protection of people and infrastructure against natural hazards such as avalanches, landslides and rockfalls. However, the protective effect of many forests is threatened by their poor condition and poor forest regeneration capabilities. Information on the state of the forest therefore is an important basis for the sustainable management of protected forests. The key forest parameters that can be mentioned in this context are the forest border line, tree species distribution, age of the forests, biomass as well as structural parameters such as vertical stand structure and forest density. The paper presents the possibilities and limits of satellite image data as well as of Airborne LiDAR data for the assessment of these parameters. The results presented are achieved by the EUFODOS project financed by the 7th Frame Work Programme of the European Commission [4] and the project ALS—Steiermark financed by Waldverband Steiermark. EUFODOS was focussing on the development of methods for pan-European identification of forest damage whereas the aim of ALS—Steiermark was to apply these methods to the entire area of the province of Styria.

Mathias Schardt, Manuela Hirschmugl, Klaus Granica

Global Urbanization—Perspective from Space

Since a decade, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities. This trend is expected to be continued in the upcoming decades, transforming our world into an urban planet. Especially urban regions in Asia and Africa will experience tremendous urban growth. Earth observation data provide unique possibilities in urban research for analyzing global urbanization processes due to a wide spectrum of satellites such as by the European Copernicus Programme providing large-area satellite data for monitoring urban change processes. Besides, also on a local scale, high resolution satellite imagery provides invaluable information for characterizing the physical urban environment, allowing for a qualitative mapping of the state of urban neighborhoods in the context of urban poverty. This paper provides an overview on global urbanization processes, the data toolbox of satellites for their analysis and selected applications to demonstrate the usefulness of satellite images for urban research.

Michael Wurm

Applications and Benefits of Earth Observation with Respect to Public Administrations as an Example of the Geographical Information System of the Province of Styria (GIS-Steiermark®)

The Geographical Information System of province of Styria (GIS-Steiermark®) is briefly described starting with a short historical overview. This leads into description of the current system configuration with its main issues, as there are the system setup and the GeoDataPool.

Rudolf L. Hütter

European Space Agency’s Business Incubation and Business Application Programmes. A Landmark in the Field of Tech Transfer

The European Space Agency’s Business Incubation System develops over 150 start-ups per year within ESA’s Members States. It is the most powerful system of its kind globally. Coaching, business support and strong network connections make a critical difference for space related start-ups. ESA’s Business Application programme focuses on downstream applications. Together, the two programmes provide a powerful tool to support tech-transfer of all kinds, from space to terrestrial, non-space applications—all following the aim and motto “for the better of humanity”.

Martin Mössler

Technological and Legal Aspects of Self-driving Vehicles

In light of recent technological leaps in satellite navigation, processing power, sensory technology and connectivity, almost every company in the automotive industry is pouring unprecedented resources into the development of automated self-driving systems. This poses a variety of challenges not only from a technological viewpoint as far as classification and standardization is concerned, but also from a legal standpoint. This written version of a presentation focuses on the technology currently employed in automated self-driving systems, its classification and approval for road use in different countries as well as legal implications in the fields of liability and data protection.

Lorenz Brunner, Gudrun Waniek

Satellite Applications for Sustainable Urban Planning and Management

Urban areas are the focal points of economic growth and wealth creation. Cities are most vulnerable to natural hazards and climate change and are facing enormous pressure due to continued worldwide urbanisation. Sustainable urban planning is needed to counteract detrimental effects on living conditions, environment, transportation and energy consumption. Satellite Earth observation offers a powerful tool to support decision-making for urban planning and enable the transformation to smart and sustainable cities. Geospatial solutions, such as provided through the European Copernicus programme, deliver fact-based decision support to plan for public service provision, locate problem areas, safeguard public investments, assess vulnerabilities, and ensure sustainable expansion.

Christian Hoffman, Maria Lemper

Relevance and Applications of Satellite-Based Earth Observation for Civil Aviation

Space-based technologies are widely used to support and increase safety and efficiency of international civilian air traffic. While satellite navigation and satellite communications were already established decades ago, new systems and applications offer new possibilities. With the introduction of specially dedicated satellite systems and services, the importance of space-based systems in aviation will even increase in the future. Amongst them, satellite-based earth observation is impacting civilian air traffic in many ways. A short overview of possibilities and current applications is given in this article.

Holger Flühr

The Legal Framework for Satellite-Based Earth Observation


An Introduction

Space law is that part of law that has a relation to internationalInternational and national space activities. Space law was initially only an object of abstract discussion, even after the first flying objects reached space. However, with the launch of the first artificial satellite Sputnik ISputnik I by the then USSR in October 1957, during the international geophysical year, it gained practical importance. Since then, the development of space law has followed technical progress. Among the sources of law for Satellite-based earth observation are at the international level primarily five international treaties concluded under the UN and five sets of principles framed by the General Assembly resolutions.

Yvonne Karimi-Schmidt

Legal Aspects of Satellite Based Earth Observation—An Introduction

This presentation aims to provide a brief insight into the legal regulation of space data, both nationally and internationally. Starting with the Remote Sensing Principles, a set of rules intended to provide legitimate access to Earth Observation Data “on reasonable terms,” the presentation then turns to more recent legal models for licensing Earth Observation Systems taking into account national interests in terms of climate and foreign policy interests. The paper emphasizes the driving forces behind Earth observation regulations and the importance of access to Earth observation data; In particular, different accesses can be observed by examining how the data are made available for disaster relief and for purely economic purposes. Complex issues of normative and/or contractual licensing and intellectual property issues need to be considered in more detail. This is an area where broadband internet has enabled new growth areas at the downstream level. Coherent arguments are present for expanding the use of Earth observation data, and for the deployment of earth observation data into new information services or products.

Lesley Jane Smith, Gina Petrovici

From “Shutter Control” to “Big Data”: Trends in the Legal Treatment of Earth Observation Data

Data is the fuel of the digital revolution. This also holds true for Earth observation imagery gathered through satellites from the vantage point of outer space. While satellite image data once represented scarcely available and mostly government-owned strategic information, it has today become a resource widely available and easily accessible. From climate change to emergency and rescue operations, from border control to agricultural monitoring—the gathering, processing and dissemination of Earth observation data are subject to legal instruments and policy considerations likewise. This article provides an overview over levels of data regulation and exemplifies the trend towards free and open access to this important resource, particularly against the paradigm shift to big data in an ever more digitalised world.

Ulrike Bohlmann, Alexander Soucek

Consequences of the Ever Growing Importance of Earth Observation: Sustainable Use of Outer Space—Small Satellites and Mega Constellations

Outer space—a legal vacuum? Talking to many people and even professional lawyers, some of them are not aware of the fact that outer space has become an area of legal interest since the first artificial satellite Sputnik-1 was sent into orbit in 1957. Since then, mankind has gained physically access to space in order to explore and use outer space for various purposes. The previous symposium was based on trends and challenges of satellite based Earth observation for economics and society. Consequently, the author wants to draw attention to space based networks, systems particularly to small satellites and mega constellations and the need for (international, supranational and national) regulations. The question of why we need regulatory issues in outer space can be easily answered: because we go to space (For further details see also Soucek A. Reasons for space activities: some thoughts. In: Brünner Ch, Soucek A, editors. Outer Space in Society, Politics and Law. Springer, 2011. p. 15ff). Only a very few people, mainly astronauts or future space tourists, have the chance to personally travel to space but in fact nearly every one of us (at least in industrialised countries) uses outer space facilities. The symposium has shown that the scope of outer space applications ranges from navigation (e.g. car navigation devices or autonomous vehicles, supervision of employment relationships), to telecommunication (e.g. direct broadcasting facilities), through to Earth observation (e.g. natural hazards, global climate change monitoring, forest monitoring, agricultural remote sensing, public administration).

Anita Rinner

Use of Global Positioning System (or Other Global Navigation Satellite Systems) in Employment Relationships

Due to technical progress, GPS-based measures to facilitate work processes or to monitor and safeguard corporate property as well as their users are much easier to implement than before. On the one hand, these technologies bring a safety benefit (e.g. newly registered vehicles must be equipped with ecall-systems from 1.3.2018, which automatically set down an emergency call with the current location in case of accidents), but on the other hand there is the danger of being constantly monitored. If such systems are used in the employment relationship, several questions arise with regard to their admissibility, which will be dealt with in the following article.

Georg Königsberger

Paneldiscussion on Natural Hazards and Earth Observation


An Introduction

In the course of the objective symposium several speakers approached the utilization of space technology for peaceful/civil purposes. In this context natural hazard and disaster management are important fields of application.

Thomas Neger

Natural Hazards and Earth Observation

Hazard always arises from the interplay of social and biological and physical systems; disasters are generated as much or more by human actions as by physical events and there is a proofed impact of global warming on natural disasters. In recent years, Remote Sensing technologies has been of considerable interest concerned with emergency services and disaster management. The objective of this paper is not to provide an overview of how Earth observation technologies can be used in the management of natural hazards in details and in case studies. The focus lies in the documentation of the requirements for the usage of Remote Sensing images within the topics of natural hazards and disaster management on different scales (from global to local aspects). Some examples of international operational mechanisms (Charter, Copernicus, ZKI), serving rapid mapping on Earth observation data will be pointed out.

Wolfgang Sulzer

United Nations Platform for Space-Based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER)

UN-SPIDER’s main objective is the observation of the planet Earth through satellites. The content of the following article is mainly based on the websites of UNOOSA and UN-SPIDER. The first part of the article includes information about UN-SPIDER. The second part lists briefly projects of the platform. The last part informs about the International Charter “Space and Major Disasters” which is an alternative emergency mechanism.

Katharina Zollner

Student Participation


Poster Presentation—An Overview

The Symposium “Trends and Challenges of Satellite-based Earth Observation” was framed by a student poster session.

Anita Rinner

Space Art and Space Technology—An Exhibition


Dimensions of Exploration and Utilisation of Space

The artistic and the technological dimensions were displayed at the exhibition during the symposium Satellite-Based Earth Observation.

Christian Brünner

Christian Brünner Turns 75


Christian Brünner—An Overview of His Career and Commitments

Professor Christian Brünner turned 75 in 2017. On this occasion, it is appropriate to look back at his illustrious career—in academia, politics and space advocacy.This list is an overview of Christian Brünner’s career and commitments. The following chapters will present his most important fields of work (law and management of institutions of higher education; dedication for a fairer society; space law and space policySpace policy; environmental law; separation of powers and control).

Hannes Mayer

Spiritus Rector: wissenschaftlicher Starthelfer und Lehrer

Der gegenständliche Beitrag findet seinen gedanklichen Ursprung in einer von Em. o. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Christian Brünner federführend getragenen hochkarätigen Veranstaltung und soll - in loser Gedankenkette - einige persönlich gehaltene Schlaglichter auf das (facetten-)reiche wissenschaftliche und akademische Wirken des Genannten werfen.

Werner Hauser

Einsatz für gerechtere gesellschaftliche Zustände

Brünners Entschluss, sich beruflich der Rechtswissenschaft zu widmen, gründete auf seinen Erfahrungen Anfang der 1960er Jahre, als er über das American Field ServiceService (AFS) ein Jahr lang die Richmond High-School in Minnesota besuchen konnte. Die im Vergleich zu seiner Heimat weit pluralistischere Gesellschaft in den USA auf der einen, die geläufigen Diskriminierungen insbesondere gegenüber der afroamerikanischen Bevölkerung (Hinderung an der Ausübung des Wahlrechts, Segregation im öffentlichen Raum, …) auf der anderen Seite, prägten Brünner und bildeten in Folge das Fundament seiner liberalen Einstellungen und seines sozialwissenschaftlichen Rechtszugangs. Auch wenn Brünner sich in manchen Fällen vielleicht selbst nicht mit den Anliegen oder Wünschen einer betroffenen Gruppe oder Minderheit identifizieren kann, hindert ihn dies nicht daran, sich für deren Anliegen und damit für gerechtere gesellschaftliche Zustände einzusetzen. Durch persönliche Interessen oder Wertevorstellung lässt er sich seinen Blick auf einen (grund)rechtskonformen Umgang nicht trüben, immer vor der Prämisse Gleiches gleich zu behandeln beziehungsweise die gleichen Rechte zu gewähren. Brünners Interessen sind hier nicht auf einen bestimmten Bereich beschränkt, vielmehr setzt er sich mit verschiedensten Bereichen der Diskriminierung wie jener nach Ethnie, Religion oder auf Grund von Homosexualität auseinander, betätigt sich im Bereich der Geschlechtergerechtigkeit oder jenem der Bettelei. Nachfolgend soll Brünners Wirken in einigen dieser vielen Bereiche etwas vertiefend dargestellt werden.

Georg Königsberger

Faszination Weltraum—Regeln zwischen Himmel und Erde

Zu Beginn seiner Lehrveranstaltung Raumfahrtrecht und Raumfahrtpolitik sagt Christian Brünner gerne über sich, dass er nicht zuletzt aufgrund seines astrologischen Sternzeichens, dem Wassermann, das zum Element “Luft” gehört und für Interesse am Unbekannten, für das Beschreiten neuer Wege steht, sich mit der Raumfahrt sehr verbunden fühlt. Nicht selten blickt man sodann in erstaunte Gesichter der Studierenden. Ein Professor, der Affinität mit der in der Hellenistischen Zeit noch anerkannten Wissenschaft und mittlerweile als Parawissenschaft verrufenen Astrologie hat? Alles kann sein. Auch das ist ein Credo, von Brünner der sich nicht schubladisieren lässt. Man sieht die Interessen von Brünner sind grenzenlos.

Anita Rinner, Yvonne Karimi-Schmidt

Christian Brünner—Pionier des Umweltrechts an der Universität Graz und darüber hinaus

Christian Brünner hat im Rahmen seiner politischen Tätigkeit als Nationalratsabgeordneter und Wissenschaftssprecher der ÖVP Anfang der 1990er Jahre gemeinsam mit dem damaligen Wissenschaftsminister und Vizekanzler, Erhard Busek, maßgebend an der Gestaltung des Universitäts-Organisationsgesetzes 1993 (UOG 1993) mitgewirkt. Gem § 1 Abs 1 UOG 1993—gleichlautend nunmehr § 1 Abs 1 Universitätsgesetz 2002 (UG)—sind die Universitäten ua dazu berufen, der wissenschaftlichen Forschung und Lehre zu dienen und hiedurch auch verantwortlich zur Lösung der Probleme des Menschen sowie zur gedeihlichen Entwicklung der Gesellschaft und der natürlichen Umwelt beizutragen.

Thomas Neger, Gerhard Schnedl

Kontrolle und Gewaltenteilung

Befragt, was der Anstoß war, sich in seiner Laufbahn intensiv mit dem Thema Kontrolle von Machtausübung zu widmen, verweist Christian Brünner auf sein Amerikajahr 1959/1960 an der Richfield Highschool, Minneapolis. In den Fächern American History und Social Sciences lernte er die Grundzüge des amerikanischen Systems der „separation of powers“ und der „checks and balances“ kennen, wie es in den ersten Artikeln der amerikanischen Verfassung grundgelegt ist, dies mit dem Zweck, Machtakkumulation zu verhindern und dadurch die Freiheit des Menschen zu sichern.

Katharina Zollner


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