Last Week in Earth Observation: Feb 27, 2023
News, Analysis & Insights on All Things Earth Observation
Hey! Welcome to a new edition of ‘Last Week in Earth Observation’, where I attempt to curate the major developments in EO from the week that just passed and provide some thoughts & analysis on some of them.
If you do not see something on the curated list and you think it is relevant, please send it my way. My aim is to make this weekly newsletter to be the most comprehensive resource there is, about all things EO.
Four Curated Things
A summary of some of the major developments in EO
1. Financial Stuff: Funding, Contracts and More 💰
The Guyana Ministry of Natural Resources has signed a three-year contract with Maxar to provide imagery and insights for environmental monitoring;
EarthDaily Analytics was awarded a $1M Canadian Space Agency to enable analytics-ready thermal detection calibration and processing;
NV5 Global, a geospatial consultancy has acquired Axim Geospatial, a geospatial solutions provider in the defence and intelligence sectors.
2. Strategic Stuff: Announcements and Partnerships 📈
Capella Space announced the launch of its Analytics Partner Program to promote use of SAR data from their satellites, starting with three partners - Woolpert, Kayrros and Floodbase;
Asterra, the Israeli startup that offers an infrastructure monitoring platform providing insights from SAR imagery is looking to launch its own L-band SAR satellite (more on this below);
Small satellite integrator, Open Cosmos will be launching a multimodal satellite with IoT-EO sensors later this year for the Andalusian (Spain) state;
Maxar has launched a high-performance, digital twin SYNTH3D for metaverse, gaming, virtual reality applications.
3. Some Interesting Reads From The News 🗞️
The International Energy Agency published bad news about the state of methane emissions in 2022 with the Methane Tracker database, which integrates satellite measurements from EO companies, GHGSat and Kayrros;
NATO is launching a new initiative to streamline the process of gathering, disseminating, and distributing satellite data for use by its members;
ESA released this video on the state of the ozone layer, its recovery and the role of satellites in monitoring it, including ESA’s upcoming Altius mission;
Marking a year of Russia invading Ukraine, the Economist published an interactive piece which uses satellite data to show the impacts of the war.
4. Some Interesting Things To Check Out 🔗
This paper showing the limited use of Earth observation data in reporting forest levels for the Global Stocktake process;
This short piece presenting how water is measured from space;
This article about the use of AI in disaster response;
This interview with an EUMETSAT expert on the significance of satellites for flood and drought monitoring;
This interactive piece showing the impact of sea-level rise in Senegal;
This online event from Geoawesomeness on EO for deforestation regulation.
Two Discussion Points
Analysis, thoughts and insights on some developments in EO
5. Alternative EO Strategy: Downstream EO Companies Going Up The Value Chain To Solve A Business Problem
When I wrote this blog- an unproven guide to building a successful EO company - along with this ugly infographic - a few years ago, most EO companies launching satellites followed the model on the left of the figure (technology-driven) more so than the model on the right (problem-driven).
If last week’s announcement that Asterra is planning to launch its own satellites comes to fruition, they will be joining Tomorrow.io, Earth Daily Analytics, SatSure, and EOS Data Analytics - companies that decided to go up the value chain, albeit for different sensors for different use cases.
What does this mean? As much as we need horizontal, multi-purpose EO data companies, we will continue seeing verticalised, use-case-driven EO application companies that want to launch satellites with a purpose.
I am certain that this will not stop here - I expect more backward vertical integration in EO and more companies launching satellites purposefully, because they have a business problem to solve as opposed to because they have a technology to demonstrate.
6. Everything You Wanted to Learn About L-Band SAR
Sometimes social media can be a gold mine, especially if we let the ‘hive mind’ do its magic. That’s what happened when I was wondering why we do not have more L-band satellites in orbit, despite the unique dataset they generate leading to unique applications (like in the case of Asterra).
I asked my Twitter and LinkedIn community, out of curiosity, and boy, did they respond. If you want to learn more about L-band SAR, I encourage you to check out the responses on both platforms.
One Podcast Episode
From the TerraWatch Space podcast
7. Translating SAR Data into Insights and Metrics for Infrastructure Monitoring
As mentioned in the curated list, Asterra, which uses L-band SAR data for infrastructure monitoring is looking to launch its own SAR satellite. So, this new episode, in which I sit down with the CEO to discuss how Asterra transforms complex SAR data into a scalable, commercial product seems timely.
In this episode, we talk about their fascinating founding story, their product portfolio, the challenges of using SAR, how they managed to transform complex SAR data into actionable information, the inevitable adoption of EO for infrastructure, and more.
An update on the TerraWatch Space newsletter/blog
8. Launching a Premium Version of the TerraWatch Space Newsletter
I have been writing on the TerraWatch Space blog inconsistently for almost 3 years now. And, in all that time, the blog has evolved - from occasional, highly-opinionated posts to deep-dives on the state of the Earth observation market along with this edition of the weekly newsletter.
I took sometime to think about how to best add value for you, the reader, while making sure, I, the writer, don’t end up becoming a free provider of insights forever - especially considering being a consultant is what I do for a living.
I am launching a premium version of the TerraWatch Space newsletter, for those who are interested in more than what you already get, or for those, who simply want to support my efforts in demystifying EO for everyone.
Here’s what you will receive, if you upgrade to become a premium subscriber, in addition to the perks of the free subscribers:
Exclusive Monthly Deep Dives 📝
They will be similar to the ones I have done before (like this one or this one), but exclusively for the premium subscribers, on a monthly basis. Following are the subjects for the deep-dives scheduled this year, in case you are interested:
Demystifying EO for Climate Risk & Reporting,
Demystifying EO for Greenhouse Gas Emissions,
Demystifying EO for Carbon Monitoring,
Demystifying EO for Banking & Insurance,
Demystifying EO for Infrastructure & Utilities,
Demystifying EO for Agriculture
Exclusive Quarterly Retrospectives 📊
These analysis reports will provide a summary of everything that happened in EO from a commercial, technological, scientific, and policy perspective in each quarter, including important contracts, launches, funding, M&A, partnerships etc.
Subscribe until March 5 to get a 30% off of the premium plan. Thank you!
And don’t fret - if you choose to remain a free subscriber, you will still be receiving a ton of analysis & insights. Here is what you will (continue to) receive:
The Weekly Newsletters 📧
This edition of the ‘Last Week in Earth Observation’ sent to you every Monday, summarising all major developments in EO along with discussion points.
The Quarterly Deep Dives📜
These typical TerraWatch deep dives that I have published so far, and those that you have all benefitted from, will continue to remain free, including:
The Occasional Blog Posts 📄
All occasional blog posts that I will publish such as the next one on the calendar - EO Hype Cycle: 2023 edition (similar to this one) and other similar thought pieces that I have published so far will continue to remain free.
Subscribe for more Earth observation insights!
Until next week,
I am not sure if I should be calling it the TerraWatch Space newsletter or the TerraWatch Space blog. Both tend to be true, so, I am using them interchangeably.
What a good read! I would like to highlight the L-band SAR discussion. It was very interesting to read more about it. You are doing an amazing job, Aravind! Thank you!