KSAT and Iceye extend radar data partnership

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SAN FRANCISCO – Iceye and Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) announced plans Sept. 25 to extend their joint campaign to speed up access to synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data for government and commercial customers.

“The newly signed contract covers further data purchases and extended operations of Iceye’s near real-time SAR processor within the KSAT ground network, resulting in an extremely fast delivery chain for data and value-added products for customers,” according to the Sept. 25 news release.

Iceye of Finland and KSAT of Norway began working together in 2018 to develop data products focused on monitoring maritime vessels and ice.

“We have a very close relationship with KSAT,” Rafal Modrzewski, Iceye co-founder and chief executive officer, told SpaceNews in a recent interview. “We develop new solutions along with them for the ground, which accelerates the processing of the data. We have our hardware in their facilities.”

The new pact between the two companies is designed to speed up vessel detection, making information available in less than 15 minutes from the arrival of the first bytes of satellite data, according to the news release.

Traditionally, radar satellite operators download an image before beginning to process it. “But we want to do it simultaneously,” Modrzewski said. “We want to be pushing the data into the processor as they are being downloaded.”

Iceye also is working to move processed images immediately to algorithms designed to detect objects. “That’s honestly the only way to cut time nowadays because everything else is already done,” Modrzewski said. Processors already begin working within seconds of image downloads, he added.

With Iceye SAR processor in its ground stations, KSAT can directly downlink Iceye data. Iceye operates a constellation of three SAR satellites and plans to launch two more satellites this year. Under the extended cooperation agreement, KSAT will prepare to handle data from Iceye’s expanding constellation, according to the news release.

KSAT operates the world’s largest satellite ground network with 180 antennas at 21 sites around the world. KSAT Lite is the company’s ground station service for small satellite operators. As of September 2019, Iceye was accessing SAR imagery through KSAT ground stations in Norway, Spain, Antarctica, Greece, South Africa and New Zealand.

KSAT provides more than 1,000 data products per week to customers worldwide. Drawing on SAR and high-resolution optical satellite imagery, KSAT offers customers products to detect vessels, monitor oil spills and observe changes in ice, according to the news release.

“KSAT has already used ICEYE satellites for critical maritime operations that we have supported,” Marte Indregard, KSAT vice president of energy, environment and security, said in a statement. “We are impressed with the quality of the data and we are looking forward to fully integrate future satellite units from the ICEYE constellation into our services.”