Home Articles How we monitor Earth – Payam Banazadeh, Capella Space

How we monitor Earth – Payam Banazadeh, Capella Space

As robust networks enable the power of the smartphone, real-time insight will spark world-changing applications that were earlier not possible.

We live in an ‘always-on’ world. Commercial markets and governments increasingly demand real-time insights about activity on our planet to improve budgets, stay competitive and most importantly, save lives. Yet most industries still rely on information from legacy electro-optical satellites that can’t see in the dark or through cloud cover and take up to a day to deliver mission-critical information.

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) holds tremendous potential for solving the equation by providing information about any area of interest on the planet, irrespective of the time of the day, remoteness of the location or weather conditions. Historically, legacy companies have been the sole providers of SAR data, though a range of new market entrants are now transforming the market and creating democratic access to earth insights. Rapid changes in the remote sensing world are ushering in an exciting future, where we will access instant knowledge of any location across the globe.
Forecast 2020

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Real-time earth observation data

Governments and enterprises will move past data that arrives up to a day late and instead use real-time Earth data to make more informed decisions about everything, from natural disaster response to military defense. The Australian wildfires are an especially sobering example of how vital real-time imagery is to governments and other agencies for responding to natural calamities. SAR satellites can see at night and through cloud cover and smoke; this type of data in real-time can help firefighters strategize a combat plan and predict the fire’s likely path.

As robust networks enable the power of the smartphone, real-time insights will spark world-changing applications that were earlier not possible. We will also see the military access persistent SAR data to monitor rapidly changing situations on the ground.

AI, ML to boost change detection

Markets need reliable and persistent monitoring from space in all weather and light conditions, coupled with additional layers of information as change occurs. High-temporal-resolution interferometric (InSAR) stacks can contain tens or even hundreds of images — challenging for humans to sort through, but ideal for Machine Learning applications focused on change detection.

In the future, governments will be alerted when a tank moves from a base or a vessel vanishes from a harbor. It will also be possible to detect more subtle changes on, say, a bridge to determine the amount of decay appearing over time. When combined with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, automatic analysis will surface insights and prioritize pressing information.

Industries will further push the boundaries of technological capabilities and adoption, including AI, Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented/ Virtual Reality, Robotics, autonomous vehicles and space.

Worldwide monitoring imminent

Despite the capability to see anywhere, we are unable to see everywhere. Satellites can currently provide a scan of a particular spot or a strip of land anywhere on the globe, but there aren’t enough constellations to provide real-time monitoring of everywhere on the planet at once. As more satellites are launched into space, they will provide hourly revisits, giving customers access to everywhere on Earth every hour and delivering game-changing intelligence about events as they happen.

The future will move faster than ever, and to power that speed, visibility and data are vital. At Capella Space, we foresee a world in which SAR data is combined with other measurements to create near omniscience about how Earth is operating, helping us to rapidly identify problems and resolve them. Businesses will run more efficiently, governments will be better informed and first responders will save more lives.

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