Capella Space captured this synthetic-aperture radar image of South America's Pantanal tropical wetlands on April 14, 2021. Credit: Capella Space

SAN FRANCISCO – Capella Space announced plans Sept. 14 to share synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) data gathered by its satellite constellation with researchers, nonprofit organizations, application developers and disaster response organizations.

Capella launched its Open Data Program by providing 60 high-resolution SAR scenes of sites on every continent, showing agriculture and aquaculture, energy and natural resources, infrastructure, maritime, environmental, humanitarian disasters and natural disasters.

Customers for Capella’s Open Data Program will gain access to updated and historical imagery and data the Capella Console, San Francisco startup’s online platform.

Through the initiative, Capella intends “to foster innovation and discover the next game-changing applications of SAR,” Jason Brown, Capella community enablement engineer, wrote in a Sept. 14 blog post.

Capella data is “ideal for computer vision and machine learning research and development” because the company released 60 scenes representing a variety of geographies and potential use cases under data-licensing policies that permit adaptation and sharing with third parties, Brown said.

San Francisco-based Capella has five satellites in orbit, receiving tasking orders from government and commercial customers. Capella offers imagery in three modes. Spotlight offers the highest resolution of 0.5 meters per pixel in a 5-square-kilometer area. Sliding Spotlight provides scans a 5-kilometer by 10-kilometer area to capture imagery with a resolution of one meter per pixel. In Stripmap mode, Capella can obtain two-meter-resolution imagery of a 5-kilometer by 20-kilometer area.

SAR data is particularly valuable for observing disaster zones at night or at times when clouds or smoke prevent satellites from gathering useful optical imagery.

The first 60 scenes Capella released publicly include images of the eruption of the La Soufrière volcano on the Caribbean Island St. Vincent, flooding in New South Wales Australia and Syrian refugee camps in Jordan.

Another commercial SAR constellation operator, Finland-based Iceye, has noted high demand for SAR imagery following earthquakes, floods, fires, landslides, avalanches.

Capella is inviting researchers and app developers to sign up to receive not only the images but the underlying data.

“You’ll soon be analyzing the highest resolution commercial SAR data and including them in your own applications,” Brown said in the blog.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...