Last Week in Earth Observation: March 20, 2023
News, Analysis & Insights on All Things Earth Observation
Hey! Welcome to a new edition of ‘Last Week in Earth Observation’, in which I attempt to curate the major developments in EO from the week that just passed and provide some thoughts & analysis on some of them.
Compared to last week’s packed edition, this one is on the lighter side. Let’s get to it!
Four Curated Things
A summary of some of the major developments in EO
1. Financial Stuff: Funding, Contracts and More 💰
L3Harris Technologies won a $765.5M contract from NASA to develop the imager for NOAA’s GeoXO mission, the successor to the GOES-R series;
As Virgin Orbit’s pauses operations and plans for insolvency, an EO operator that might be impacted is Polish satellite manufacturer, SatRev, which planned to launch an EO constellation with the launch provider;
Maxar Technologies, which acquired RF-monitoring startup, Aurora Insight has integrated it into its product portfolio;
EOI Space, a US-based startup that plans to launch low-orbit EO satellites signed a launch contract with SpaceX;
Arianespace won the contract for launching the first few satellites of the Italian government’s EO constellation, IRIDE in late 2025;
K2Space, a US-based satellite manufacturing startup raised $8.5M in a seed round to build large satellite platforms, compatible with Starship (I tweeted that this could enable edge computing and inter-satellite data links?!);
2. Strategic Stuff: Announcements and Partnerships 📈
Satellogic announced that their proprietary satellites are available for sale at less than $10M, with an off-the-shelf version ready to launch in less than 3 months and a customisable version in 12-30 months;
WeatherStream, which produces microwave sounders for monitoring the atmosphere, is partnering with Terra Space Lab, that produces multispectral infrared sensors for a global real-time wildfire early detection system;
SkyFi announced integration of optical/multispectral data from Satellogic, and high-resolution SAR imagery from Umbra, on its platform;
Umbra launched its open SAR open data program (link to AWS);
Agmatix, an Agtech startup specialising in field data, is partnering with with NASA Harvest - NASA's global food security and agriculture consortium, to develop sustainable agriculture solutions.
3. Some Interesting Reads From The News 🗞️
Brazil is negotiating with China to build a new satellite that could be used to monitor deforestation in the Amazon and for climate observation
The Finnish Meteorological Institute will leverage digital twins' capabilities built by European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) for improving forestry operations;
Similarly, Belgian remote sensing firm, VITO will use the digital twins to build an interactive tool providing high resolution urban heat maps and predict their evolution under future climate conditions;
Weather intelligence startup, Tomorrow.io announced that their proprietary forecast model outperforms publicly available forecasts by 38%;
Thermal infrared satellite startup Hydrosat announced that their Crop Yield Forecast has achieved unparalleled accuracy;
The UK’s National Centre for Earth Observation has launched its Earth Observation Climate Information Service (EOCIS), to create, maintain and expand regional and global climate data from space;
NASA released additional details on its 2024 budget proposal - here’s the extract of the Earth science budget
4. Some Interesting Things To Check Out 🔗
This case study from ESA showing how monitoring forests from satellites is crucial for reforestation and measuring carbon fluxes;
This blog that talks about the importance of what “open” data means in EO;
This paper that benchmarked the detection of methane emissions from Sentinel-2, Landsat-8, World View 3, GHGSat and PRISMA missions;
The Snapshots newsletter from Planet that talks about the use of satellite imagery (or just to look at the beautiful snaps of our planet - like this one);
Subscribe for more Earth observation insights!
One Podcast Episode
From the TerraWatch Space podcast
5. Edge Computing for Earth Observation
Edge computing has been creating a lot of buzz in the Earth observation sector. So, I had Sean Mitchell from Irish EO edge computing startup, Ubotica on the podcast to discuss about the capabilities of on-board processing and its potential.
In this episode, Sean and I talk about what edge computing means, what it brings to the table, what is possible today, applications for Earth observation, Ubotica's technology and journey, and more.
Until next week,