The best part for the Earth observation sector is that their image collection and analysis capabilities have never been better. The industry’s bad news is that many potential clients are unaware of those capabilities.
Industry authorities decried that, even as they develop ever-greater functionality to track the planet utilizing synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and optical imagery, potential users are unaware of those functionalities or have obsolete knowledge of how it works during a panel session at the Satellite 2021 convention on September 9.
This includes persons who work in the space industry. Nicole Robinson, who works as a president at Ursa Space Systems beginning early this year after serving at satellite operator SES, said, “I was absolutely blown away by the prospects in the early days, and I’ve been in the satellite and space sector for the better portion of two decades.” “As a community, we have some activities to do.”
Ursa analyzes optical, SAR, and other data to deliver insights for a variety of industries. One issue, she noted, has been “open, budget-friendly” data access. She described it as “effectively the e-commerce aspect of satellite intelligence.”
She explained that her organization is striving to make the data analysis platform open and affordable enough for a user to come in, select a region and time range for change detection assessment, and pay for it with a credit card, a method she dubbed “pay by the sip.”
She said, “You don’t have to commit to a $500,000 membership to do it.” “Making our data more available, easier to buy, and easier to ingest would be a game-changer for this industry.”
Companies that create satellite imagery say they’re attempting to “re-educate” customers about the capabilities of their systems. “To persuade some of these clients to realize the distinction between traditional mapping firms and quick revisit activity as well as intelligence companies, we had to run pilots. It’s been a struggle,” stated Patrick O’Neil, BlackSky’s principal data scientist.
One challenge, he added, is acclimating customers to the idea that businesses like BlackSky, which maintains an expanding fleet of satellites, can take multiple photographs of the same location throughout the day. “In these spaces, a lot of the impression of satellite imaging and remote sensing has been created for the last few decades,” he added. “You have to redefine what we do completely. We won’t have to shift the sky to capture a single shot the next day, as has been the case in the past.”
“It’s a lot of getting Iceye’s message out there and what you can accomplish with SAR,” stated Andrew Parlock, who serves as the senior director in charge of the sales at Iceye in the United States. This includes showing how SAR satellites, such as the Iceye constellation, can collect photographs in any weather or illumination condition.