Iceye captured this synthetic aperture radar image of a container yard near Port Harcout, Nigeria. This was the first one-meter resolution imagery Iceye shared. Credit: Iceye

SAN FRANCISCO — Iceye announced plans Oct. 16 to begin offering commercial access to its Spotlight mode, offering one-meter resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery.

Prior to the announcement, Iceye was preparing to make Spotlight available commercially by “testing and improving the new mode for customer use,” Rafal Modrzewski, Iceye CEO and co-founder, said by email. Now, Spotlight imaging is a standard part of the service Iceye offers from its SAR constellation, he added.

Iceye operates three SAR satellites. The company plans to launch two more radar satellites by the end of the year.

“New commercial sources for one-meter resolution SAR imaging are by definition unique,” Modrzewski said by email. “Not just that, but this is done with SAR microsatellites, which makes it possible for us to continue to grow our capacity at a fast pace. ICEYE will continue to make these new capabilities real, and widely available.”

“High resolution radar imagery is especially useful for distinguishing between small objects, and in helping data users classify larger objects with more certainty,” Iceye said in an Oct. 16 news release. The high resolution imagery is particularly useful in counting vehicles, estimating property damage, conducting maritime surveillance and monitoring commodity stockpiles, like iron ore and coal, the company added.

“The commodities sector is an early example where the availability of high-resolution SAR imaging can have dramatic impacts,” Pekka Laurila, Iceye chief strategy officer and co-founder, said in a statement. “It is now possible to track specific locations, often with high reliability and at an incredible level of detail. The potential benefits for our early users are immense, as the competitive edge our data provides is still very fresh in the market.”

Iceye launched the first SAR microsatellite in January 2018. Because radar satellites don’t need light or clear skies to gather images, they operate around-the-clock and in all 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...