Forecasts call for rapid growth in Earth observation market

by

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 3, 2018 issue of SpaceNews magazine.

Two consulting firms anticipate strong demand for commercial Earth observation products and services in the next decade as satellite constellations offer an increasing array of optical, radar, hyperspectral and video imagery and data.

From 2017 to 2027, Northern Sky Research (NSR) expects annual demand for Earth observation data and services to rise from just over $3 billion to $6.9 billion. By 2027 small satellites will claim 24 percent of the revenue compared with 11 percent in 2017, according to “Satellite-Based Earth Observation, 10th Edition” by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based NSR.

“Earth observation revenues are growing, due to high-volume imagery sales and a growing focus on analytics from high-resolution and medium-resolution imagery,” NSR said in the report published Nov. 19.

NSR expects sales of imagery and data to expand only slightly while revenues from analytics and big data products and services jump fourfold over the decade.

Euroconsult reached similar conclusions in “Satellite-Based Earth Observation: Market Prospects to 2027,” although it sees data and services as two distinct markets.

“The commercial Earth observation data market could reach $2.4 billion in 2027, driven by a mixture of defense and new commercial markets and supported by the arrival of new constellation operators,” according to the report released Oct. 19 by the Paris-based consulting firm.

Meanwhile, the market for value-added services, such as crop forecasts or disaster monitoring, will top $5.7 billion under Euroconsult’s conservative forecast or grow to $9 billion in an “upside scenario” that envisions the new supply of space-based data prompting customers to adopt Earth observation for jobs like high-frequency change detection.

Demand for imagery with resolution better than 1 meter will grow far more quickly than demand for lower resolution data products, according to Euroconsult. By 2027, the market for this very-high-resolution imagery will be worth nearly $1.7 billion, compared with $938 million in 2017, according to Euroconsult.