EarthDaily constellation built for change-detection analysis

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PARIS – While much of the Earth-observation industry works to improve imagery resolution, EarthDaily Analytics is focused on high-quality imagery that can be quickly analyzed to detect change.

“When I say quality, it’s the quality of the color, the size of the pixel, the geolocation of the pixel across 22 spectral bands,” said Don Osborne, EarthDaily Analytics CEO told SpaceNews at the World Satellite Business Week conference here. “It’s a continuous calibration and check to make sure that the data coming off the satellite is high quality.”

EarthDaily Analytics plans to gather daily imagery of Earth’s landmass with a constellation of 10 satellites being provided by Loft Orbital, based on the OneWeb platform. Switzerland-based ABB and Xiphos Technologies of Montreal are developing payloads for the 200-kilogram satellites, scheduled to begin launching in late 2023 or early 2024.

Under a $150 million contract announced early this year, Loft will integrate the satellites and payloads, arrange the launch and operate the constellation for 10 years.

“The satellites are going to be delivered in just over a year,” said Pierre-Damien Vaujour, LoftOrbital CEO and co-founder. “Everything was purchased over a year ago. That’s the benefit of piggybacking on someone who has a production line with hundreds of satellites.”

Temporal consistency is a priority for the EarthDaily constellation. Imagery with a native resolution of five meters per pixel and processed resolution of 3.5 meters per pixel will be captured at approximately 10:30 am local time, Osborne said.

The EarthDaily constellation will cross-calibrate satellites instruments with European Space Agency Sentinel satellites.

Since change detection is the goal, EarthDaily Analytics is happy to hand off responsibility for satellite and sensor manufacturing to experts, Osborne said. “We’re focused on the software side,” he added. “We have partners doing what they do best.”

EarthDaily Analytics was formed by Antarctica Capital in 2021 after the private equity firm bought parts of UrtheCast.

To handle the extensive dataset the EarthDaily constellation will capture, EarthDaily Analytics has spent nearly $30 million creating an automated data-processing and quality-control system.

“That data comes in, it’s ingested, it’s processed to be ready for the application of analytics, whether somebody brings their own API or whether we deliver the data to them,” Osborne said

Before deciding to establish a constellation, EarthDaily Analytics surveyed the market for available data. EarthDaily Agro, the EarthDaily Analytics division formerly known as Geosys, relies on Earth observation data from Sentinel, Airbus and other satellites.

“We integrate all these pieces of data, which still doesn’t get the coverage and consistency that we’d really like for broad area,” Osborne said.

In addition, fusing disparate data sources is difficult.

“If you’re trying to look over a continent, it becomes very expensive and people who are utilizing that data, frankly, aren’t willing to pay the price,” Osborne said.

Osborne sees important applications for the data gathered by the EarthDaily constellation in food security and water optimization.

“These are really global problems which we can’t solve, but we can help contribute to the solutions,” he added.