The commercial space sector is playing a greater role than ever in bringing the benefits of space assets to a wider population. In the Earth observation domain, several commercial initiatives are underway that target the development of large constellations of Earth imaging satellites and the associated provision of geospatial information and services. Existing examples of such private ventures include Google’s Terrabella or Planet Labs, both of which focus on capturing imagery in the optical domain.
Montreal-based company NorthStar is currently developing an entirely new concept that has the potential to revolutionize the geospatial services industry. NorthStar is the first commercial system to combine hyperspectral and infrared sensors to observe the Earth and obtain a wealth of information about any object on the planet. Using software analysis and predictive analytics, NorthStar will generate real-time solutions for the world’s most challenging problems and transmit these directly to end users. Applications of hyperspectral imagery are numerous, covering domains such as energy and natural resources, forestry and agriculture, urban planning, and environmental monitoring.
In addition, the Northstar mission also targets the tracking of space objects, including space debris: NorthStar’s satellites will include sensors designed to detect and track objects in Low Earth Orbit and in Geosynchronous Orbit. This Space Situational Awareness is critical to governments, military organizations, and private operators of spaceborne assets all around the planet.
The RHEA Group is currently supporting Northstar in the mission and system definition phase. Northstar will consist of a constellation of 40 satellites in Low Earth Orbit, the associated ground control stations, a data processing and distribution system, and value-added service platforms that will allow access to cloud-based IT resources, data, products, information, and services.
“The Northstar system offers a state of the art, unique combination of 3 key capabilities: rich data content from hyperspectral imaging, frequent imaging revisit over a geographical area, and real-time information provision. This will open up worldwide new markets and applications of Earth observation. The RHEA Group is proud to contribute to this project from the onset, and will look forward to a prolonged partnership with Northstar”, said Cedric Seynat, RHEA Group’s project manager on the Northstar project.