Day 4

Detailed paper information

Back to list

Paper title Hot data from space - how Satellite Vu's high resolution thermal infrared satellite imagery will provide a new source of climate & environmental intelligence
  1. Alex Gow Satellite Vu Speaker
Form of presentation Poster
  • B7. NewSpace missions
    • B7.03 New Space missions with small and nanosatellites
Abstract text Current methods to remotely identify and monitor thermal energy emissions are limited and costly. Manual inspection remains the most common but can become time-consuming and complex to undertake depending on how spread out the assets are.

In 2022 SatelliteVu will launch the world’s first commercial constellation of high-resolution thermal imaging satellites. Constructed in the UK, the constellation will be capable of resolving building level measurements providing an accurate determination of relative temperature, at multiple times of day or night. This unique technology will help us better understand change and activity within the built and surrounding natural environment that traditional visible wavelength imagery will not detect. High spatial resolution Medium Wave InfraRed (MWIR) imagery provides several key differentiators to visible imagery (VIS) and has the potential to become a high-value data product for the EO market:
· The vast majority of currently available imagery in the visible waveband is captured at mid-morning or mid-afternoon local times due to the reliance on good illumination conditions. In particular, no images can be captured during the night. MWIR imagery overcomes this limitation as the detectable signal only depends on the temperature of the scene hereby enabling imaging at any local time.
· The ability to contrast the relative temperature of the target objects will provide information on items that would otherwise be invisible such as energy efficiency of buildings or outflows of pollution into the rivers and sea.
o MWIR data will also provide insight into the level of human activity within a scene, for example, determining which buildings are occupied and sources of waste energy.
o It is also possible to gain a level of temporal information by monitoring temperature changes.

Very little civilian MWIR EO data is available and almost all are medium to low resolution (between ~1000 to 3000m GSD), which is too coarse to distinguish the finer details that enable high-value applications. The key to providing data products with maximised utility in MWIR is to produce high-resolution data at low cost. This translates into a requirement for a high-performance MWIR imager delivering a small GSD and fitting in a sufficiently small, low cost and agile platform to enable the deployment of constellations. The Satellite Vu constellation will achieve a sub-4m GSD pixel and will be accommodated on a spacecraft with a launch mass of about 130kg. This will enable a low enough price per spacecraft to make building constellations an attractive and worthwhile commercial investment.

The presentation will detail the Satellite Vu constellation capabilities and explore how high-resolution intra-day thermal satellite imaging will impact our ability to monitor energy use and environmental change on a global scale.