Airborne Remote Sensing

One of the SIOS's missions is to work towards reducing environmental footprints of scientific observations. To achieve this mission, SIOS supports and coordinates the usage of drones and aircraft platforms to acquire aerial imageries and hyperspectral data for the Svalbard research community to support scientific projects.

SIOS-KC coordinates the remote sensing service to use manned and unmanned aircraft requested by researchers from SIOS members. The service is made available with the support from SIOS member institutes NORCE and UNIS (drone group). SIOS has funded a hyperspectral sensor (aboard Dornier aircraft) and a couple of drones through SIOS-InfraNor project. In addition, NORCE and UNIS provide additional drones and sensors to increase the variety of applications.

Please contact our remote sensing officer if you need more information on the usage of drones and the Dornier aircraft for your project activity.

How to use available drones and aircraft facilities?

(1) SIOS’s Announcements of opportunity for airborne remote sensing: This is an effort by SIOS to facilitate the usage of airborne platforms within SIOS research community. This opportunity is available for SIOS member institutes upon their submitted projects and consequent evaluation. Subscribe to our newsletter to keep informed about future calls.

(2) Operational SIOS-Access call: SIOS-ACCESS provides access to a variety of research infrastructures (RIs) and facilities in Svalbard that includes the usage of aircraft and drones. This opportunity is open for the international research community in Svalbard. 

(3) On request/demand: SIOS coordinates all the requests of using aircraft and drones from the entire research community including space agencies for conducting scientific projects or supporting Cal/Val activities for satellite missions. The aircraft and drones are available for research purposes at a competitive rate. If you are planning to put forward such requests, please make sure that you contact us at least 2 months prior to the planned research or Cal/Val activity. This service is available during the entire year; however, image acquisition and hyperspectral data acquisition would be available only during the spring and summer season (April-September). 

Which projects are prioritised for using aircraft and drones?

Proposals from space agencies supporting cal/val activities for satellite missions are encouraged Proposals should contribute towards one or more of the following topics:

  • Specifically addressing one or more of the recommendations in SESS reports;
  • Closing the gaps or complementing to in situ data or measurements;
  • Cal/Val of airborne or satellite borne hyperspectral data with ground measurements;
  • Contributions to modelling activities;
  • Reducing the environmental footprint of observations in Svalbard.



SIOS supports training course topics (lectures and /or hands-on sessions) on the usage of airborne image and hyperspectral data collected by Dornier aircraft based sensors and uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs). Related topics were previously included in the Terrestrial Remote Sensing Training course in 2020 and the hyperspectral remote sensing training course in 2021. All the courses are intended for scientists, master/Ph.D. students and technicians with no or little experience with remote sensing techniques. The training is generally delivered by remote sensing experts from SIOS member institutions, SIOS-KC, international researchers, and experts from the industry.

For more information on training courses go to our training section.

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