It is one thing to send more than one trillion bytes of satellite data every day, but it is another to convert all this data into a daily updated panorama of the earth.
In the first part of the mission, the global company satellogic, headquartered in Uruguay, turned to an earth observation satellite constellation, which is expected to increase from the current 17 spacecraft to more than 300 by 2025.
To help complete the processing part of the job, satellogic turned to Amazon Web services.
Clint crosier, director of aerospace and satellite solutions at AWS, told geekwire, “we have built the future between satellite logic and AWS.”. “We enable them to plan to achieve their goal of photographing every square kilometer of the earth every day.”
According to Matt Tirman, President of satellite logic North America, this will open up more application fields for satellite data.
“High quality satellite data is crucial to solving some of the world’s most critical problems, such as resource utilization and allocation,” Tirman said in an Amazon blog post today. “For large-scale agriculture, our data can help answer questions about crop health, environmental impact, invasive pest life cycle, drought or flood risk.”
Timely satellite data can also guide the response to natural disasters and humanitarian crises, promote urban planning and asset management, or smooth maritime and air traffic. Tirman said that he sees AWS as an “accelerator” that can provide insights and updates to satellite logic customers faster and give them more time to respond to rapid changes.
Before joining AWS, crosier was a major general of the air force and space forces. He explained that there is usually a trade-off in satellite based earth observation: a high-priced satellite is usually required to generate high-resolution images, but a large number of low earth orbit satellites are required to obtain frequently updated images. So how many expensive satellites can you afford to build?
Satellite logic is changing this balance. It has a number of lightweight and low-cost satellites. The existing 17 satellite constellations can collect 2 million square miles (5 million square kilometers) of multispectral and hyperspectral images every day. In addition, each satellite is equipped with a full dynamic video clip of up to 60 seconds, which is expected to be upgraded soon.
“They have been able to design a satellite design system that actually provides sub meter resolution at a cost that allows them to build a 300 ball constellation,” crosil said. “So now you don’t have to trade with these two counterparties… It’s really a change.”
The design goal of each satellite is to generate an average of 50 gigabytes of data every day. When you multiply it by 300 satellites, you must have a system that can process and store 1.5 megabytes of data every day, and then provide customers with timely access to the data they need. This is where AWS comes into play.
Satellogic uses Amazon S3 data storage service and AWS cloud infrastructure to enable its customers to safely access trillions of bytes of data in the company’s searchable database. AWS provides scalable computing power through Amazon eks and AWS lambda services. The processed data is delivered to satellite logic customers through the service layer built on Amazon cloudfront and Amazon API gateway.
With the development of satellite logic constellation, AWS can gradually increase the capacity to match it.
“If they run locally, they have to scale up, build new hardware, new security facilities, and bring in new personnel every time,” crosier said. “With AWS, all they have to do is configure the AWS console to expand the processing capacity and the number of servers.”
Satellite logic is not the only earth observation company using AWS cloud services. Other partners include blacksky, a Seattle based company that is building a constellation of 30 satellites; Maxar technologies cooperates with AWS to accelerate the satellite based weather forecasting process; And Capella space, headquartered in San Francisco, which owns a number of radar imaging satellites.
“We are supporting hundreds of customers from aerospace and satellite teams,” crosil said. “We don’t have any exclusive relationship. As a basic principle, we want to support any aerospace company that believes they can improve their missions and operations through cloud operations.”
Crosier is not worried that AWS will lose business opportunities.
“There is a lot of demand in the market,” he said. “You know, it’s a bit like when I was in the army. You can never provide enough images to warfighters around the world, can you? You can never exhaust their demand signals. I think earth observation is the same. Every time we think we’re about to become normal, we open some new use cases.”