Iceye's Dwell imaging mode is designed to help analysts detect human-made objects and moving vehicles.

ST LOUIS – Iceye unveiled a new imaging mode that distinguishes human-made from natural objects and highlights moving vehicles.

For Dwell, the synthetic aperture radar imaging mode Iceye announced May 22 at the GEOINT Symposium here, satellites focus on an area for 25-seconds. Iceye’s traditional imagery is derived from 10-second views.

Iceye developed Dwell to help analysts quickly distinguish buildings and vehicles from forests, fields, ice and water. In a grassy field, the reflections of the microwave pulses off the ground will be similar throughout the field of view.

“But if it’s a car or a building, the way that it reflects the microwave pulses will be very different,” Eric Jensen, Iceye U.S. CEO, told SpaceNews. “The algorithm basically says the glinting off this thing is much different in different locations. That’s a good candidate for a man-made thing.”

Iceye uses bright colors to highlight built objects In Dwell imagery.

In spite of increasing reliance on machines to analyze satellite imagery and data, human analysts continue to play an important role. As a result, Iceye wants to make it easier for people without extensive experience with radar imagery to quickly make sense of it, Jensen said.

Focusing on an area for 25 seconds also increases image acuity and clarity, Jensen said, making Dwell useful for experienced analysts too.

In addition, Dwell imagery is useful for detecting tanks or equipment hidden under trees, Jensen said. “The chances that the microwaves make their way through the foliage and bounce back off the tank are much greater,” he added.

John Cartwright, ICEYE data product head, said in a statement that Dwell will help people “better understand and characterize what is happening and changing on the ground in all lighting and weather conditions.” 

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...