Iceye unveils new wide-area imaging capability

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SAN FRANCISCO – Iceye unveiled a new product May 10, wide-area Scan imaging focused on areas as large as 10,000 square kilometers.

Since Iceye flew the first small synthetic-aperture radar satellites in 2018, the company has developed a variety of products to help customers zoom in on specific areas or detect changes over time. The new wide-area Scan mode extends the area customers can view in a single scene.

“We realized some time ago that with our flat-panel, phased-array radars we can scan really big areas,” Steve Young, Iceye vice president for business development and sales, told SpaceNews. “Once we managed to make it work and get the ground processing working, we thought we would release that as a commercial product.”

The new wide-area Scan mode is likely to appeal to maritime customers, Young said. “It’s very good at spotting ships in very large areas of ocean and along coastlines,” he added.

When testing the wide-area Scan mode, Iceye captured SAR imagery showing Ever Given, the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal.

“We took one image of the whole area,” Young said. “You could count all the ships and see the traffic flow. This mode enables you to then expand your view, see huge areas and put things in context.”

While Iceye is beginning to sell imagery of 10,000 square kilometer areas, the company has worked on gathering imagery of even larger areas from a single satellite pass.

“We’ve done trials to Scan image areas as large as 100 kilometers by 400 kilometers with a single acquisition, covering areas at once that would take more than 1,500 Spot images as a comparison,” Pekka Laurila, Iceye chief strategy officer and co-founder, said in a statement.

While developing new imaging products, Iceye has been growing rapidly. The company recently established a satellite manufacturing facility, research and development laboratory, and mission operations center for U.S.-licensed spacecraft in Irvine, California, the firm’s Iceye U.S. headquarters.

Iceye is preparing to launch 10 SAR satellites in 2021, after launching four in 2019.