Security at nuclear plant improved by satellite telecommunications

Power plant
24 May 2005

An ESA supported project has recently begun field trials connecting a nuclear power plant in Slovakia to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria as part of an alarm and surveillance system based on satellite telecommunications.

The Satellite based Alarm and Surveillance System (SASS) enables secure, reliable and high-performance transmission via satellite of alarm signals, including live video pictures, still images and data. The IAEA is testing the ability of SASS to monitor nuclear facilities in near real-time without the limitations caused by the poor terrestrial communications infrastructure found at many locations.

SASS not only provides higher quality information with a shorter time delay but also offers always-on monitoring for increased vigilance and safety. The worldwide coverage offered by satellite communications and is also of particular interest to the IAEA.

IAEA Headquarters
IAEA Headquarters

The IAEA will initially test the SASS system for a three-month field trial phase. One SASS terminal has been installed at IAEA Headquarters in Vienna and initial tests have been successful. This terminal will be used during the field trial phase mainly to test new alarm and security applications made possible by the SASS system for the IAEA’s Nuclear Safeguards and Verification work.

A second terminal has been installed at a nuclear plant in the Slovak Republic. To begin with, this terminal is being used to complement and enhance the capacity of telephone lines for regular downloading of information collected by IAEA monitoring systems.

The Applications Strategy Manager for ESA Telecom, Mr Pierluigi Mancini, speaking about the importance of this cooperation said: "ESA is extremely pleased to demonstrate to the IAEA the intrinsic relevance Satcom has for real user needs."

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