Space & Geospatial to Transform Earth Systems


Space solutions have been revolutionizing earth systems for decades. With various trends bygone, satellites and other space products are coming of age, developing into multi-dimensional operational objects that can handle various tasks at once.

Coupled with onboard processing and AI analytics, the satellite industry is undergoing a silent reformation, where qualitative and quantitative data is no more a one-off choice but a new normal.

On the second day of the Geospatial World Forum, a session was held on the topic Space Infrastructure and Geospatial Analytics: Economic Value through Downstream Applications to discuss this and more.

Moderated by Pacome Revillon, CEO, Novaspace, the session delved deep into the various facets of space and geospatial offerings and how downstream can augment quality solutions that can bring about positive change on Earth.

Space trends

While talking about how satellite miniaturization is a foregone trend, Juan Tomas Hernani, CEO, Satlantis said, “We should not talk about satellite miniaturization again. That was a former trend which enabled companies to downsize and slice their costs, making satellites affordable.”

Learning from big satellites which were launched decades ago and now with mini-satellites, we’re forming a middle ground to provide meaningful data for various applications. So the trend today is data fusion.

Prateep Basu, Co-founder & CEO, SatSure reiterated the need for open data with AI analytics and powerful GPUs by explaining agri-finance practices.

He explained, “We were using Open Data from Copernicus’ Sentinal 1 & 2, however, the fusion of SAR and Optical imagery was not initially easy. To do this at the scale of entire India – 3 million square kilometres – on a weekly basis as part of monitoring required unbelievable scale.”

“Fortunately, a lot of things led where we are today which could not have been possible when we started. First and foremost, the industry transition from Machine Learning on EO data to Deep Learning and computer vision,” he stated.

The intersection of open satellite data, powerful algorithms, and more powerful chips have come together to enable many solutions, according to Prateep.

Geospatial Potential

Sarah Hodgetts, Director, Geospatial Commission said,What we’re grappling in the UK is the creation, improvement, and accessing to geospatial data. Especially in the public sector, we’re grappling with how we value that data and make it the case for making that data accessible more broadly than just within our own band of public sector sphere.”

While explaining how science policy has monetary benefits in the long run, Sarah said, “I have worked in science policy for many years, and we have a really good system of how we invest in science. If you put a pound in science today it returns seven pounds into the economy in 10 years.”

We have higher return figures invested in geospatial data. But we’re still on the journey to make the case in the public sector, she emphasized.

Nation’s Responsibility

Rajeev Jyoti, Director Technical, IN-SPACe explained how his organisation is empowering the Indian Space community.

“In-SPACe is trying to enable the 6 decade old Indian space sector – which is blooming currently – to augment better geospatial activities and space programs by acting as a single window interface for the industry and promoting, enabling, authorizing, and supervising the projects.”

He laid out 4 ways in which In-SPACe is influencing the future of Indian space.

Promoter:

  • Build a decadal vision and strategy for the Indian space economy
  • Grow industry outreach internationally
  • Generate demand for the industry

Enabler:

  • Transfer of technology for mutual benefit
  • Access to facilities and expertise
  • Facilitate funding
  • Handling and developing skill

Authorizer:

  • Release a launch manifesto
  • Authorize all space activities
  • Release NGP
  • Act as a single window agency

Supervisor

  • Provide expert guidance to NGEs
  • Facilitate design reviews
  • Oversee project implementation

Taking this argument to a worldwide scale, and explaining how different nations often hit a blockade of limited satellite imagery which ultimately hinders their development, Lorant Czaran, Scientific Affairs Officer, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) said, “Satellite data is expensive and a lot of countries cannot afford it, they complain about lack of access. So our work at UN is to try to make this data more affordable, accessible to them be it through platforms or negotiated agreements with the vendors and so on.”

He added, “Key is also to have multi-agency and multi-user license agreement which is another area where we are pushing very hard to make sure this data is easy and shareable when once purchased.”

Making satellite data easily accessible is extremely important, he concluded.

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