Azure-Thales processing chain (Source: Microsoft)

Microsoft adds Thales imaging processing software to Azure Orbital services

This week Microsoft and Thales Alenia Space announced that Thales’ DeeperVison automated image processing solution is being added to Microsoft’s Azure Orbital platform, adding a new tool to Microsoft’s platform of satellite data services.  

“Processing space satellite imagery at cloud-scale changes the game for our customers who need these AI/ML data insights to quickly make informed decisions for mission success. Supporting impactful innovation for our customers is a top priority for our Azure Space efforts – adding DeeperVision to Azure Orbital is a testament to our ongoing collaboration with Thales Alenia Space” said Tom Keane, CVP of Azure Global at Microsoft.

The DeeperVision software uses artificial intelligence to process and analyze large catalogs of Earth observation imagery, automatically detecting how features change over time and monitoring areas of interest for changes, anomalies, and similarities.  The insights are automatically and continuously logged from the imagery as they are produced, with results stored as metadata in the catalog.  

Microsoft’s Azure Orbital service provides a unified suite of services for satellite operators, enabling customers to communicate with and control satellites and download data directly from ground stations into the Microsoft Azure cloud for processing.  The company has been rapidly been building and deploying ground stations in/next to its data centers in order to directly ingest data from satellites for processing and storage in Azure at scale, a lucrative market given the boon in commercial imaging, IoT and other services.  A single radar imaging satellite can capture several hundred gigabytes of data per day while fleets of optical imaging satellites measure their data capture in terms of terabytes per day.

The Thales/Microsoft alliance adds high-speed geospatial data processing at scale. With DeeperVision and other Azure services, tasks like change detection, site monitoring, situational awareness, and entity recognition can be automated for civilian and governmental needs.  In September 2020, Microsoft conducted a live demonstration taking data from a NASA satellite and piping it into DeeperVision for real-time processing.

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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