Commercial imagery gets more specialized

If the flood of optical and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) firms wasn’t enough, start-ups are starting to pursue specific niches, with Pixxel focusing on hyperspectral and EOS Data Analytics leaning into agricultural.

This week Pixxel announced the close of a $7.3 million seed round, with its first hyperspectral satellite schedule to launch within the next few months.  Pixxel has offices in Los Angeles and Bangalore reflecting its Silicon Valley and Indian roots.

“We are very excited to finally speak about what we are building at Pixxel. Our new funding enables us to build a health monitor for the planet through the world’s most advanced hyperspectral small-satellites. This enables us to capture some of the richest imagery that’s ever been beamed down to earth,” said Awais Ahmed, co-founder and CEO of Pixxel. “These hyperspectral satellites will allow society to tackle many of humanity’s most pressing issues and we believe they will become the holy grail of remote sensing – providing the best combination of spatial, temporal and spectral resolutions to date and empowering humans to see the earth like never before.” 

Pixxel says its satellites will collect up to 300 spectral bands (colors) of light, 100 times more than the standard red, green, and blue bands collected for color photography.  It will provide resolution down to 5 meters, the highest in the commercial marketplace and far more detailed than the typical 50 to 100 meter hyperspectral publicly available today.

Hyperspectral imaging enables the capture of exact chemical signatures, providing much more information for applications such as agriculture, energy, environmental conservation, and national security.  Pixxel will have a constellation of satellites to enable revisit time within 24 hours, providing a rapid monitoring capability.

EOS Data Analytics (EOSDA) last month announced plans to launch seven agriculture-focused satellites into orbit by 2024, providing a full turn-key virtual service including direct imaging, processing, analysis, and delivery.

“Agriculture in the twenty-first century stands to benefit immensely from adopting new space technologies, helping the industry tackle issues like land use, soil maintenance, and climate change,’’ said EOS Data Analytics CEO, Artyom Anisimov. “Our new satellite constellation is perfectly poised to be a trailblazer and leader in this arena.’’

The EOSDA satellites will feature 1.4 meter single color and 2.8 meter multispectral resolution, 11 band channels, and a swath width of up to 40 kilometers, with the seven satellite constellation providing a 3 day revisit time.  Each satellite expected to have a five year life.

“Boosting food production in the age of rapid climate change will require adhering to sustainable agriculture principles,” said EOSDA Founder Max Polyakov. ‘’Without reliable data and analytics, that objective becomes almost impossible to achieve. We are set to provide farmers with the data required to meet that goal.” 

EODSA will launch its first satellites in early 2022, with updated hardware launched in 2023 and 2024. Max Polyakov was the founder of the Cupid dating site and lead investor of Firefly Aerospace in 2017 when he bought the assets of Firefly Space Systems out of bankruptcy.

Doug Mohney

Doug Mohney, a principal at Cidera Analytics, has been working and writing about IT and satellite industries for over 20 years. His real world experience including stints at two start-ups, a commercial internet service provider that went public in 1997 for $150 million and a satellite internet broadband company. Follow him on Twitter at DougonTech or contact him at dmohney139 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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