ESA promotes radio frequency monitoring as Spire becomes TPM

The global company Spire, which specialises in using continuous global monitoring to track aircraft, ships and weather patterns using a large constellation of CubeSats, is now an ESA Third Party Mission.

As Earth’s population continues to grow, acquiring high quality data to help to predict the movement of the world’s resources is a priority. A specialist in this field, providing radio frequency datasets in near real-time, Spire Global recently announced that it has officially joined ESA’s prestigious Earthnet Third Party Mission (TPM) programme. The data portfolio that Spire provides will include GNSS-RO polarimetric data (PRO) from the ESA InCubed co-funded PROGRES activity.

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Image courtesy of Spire

Two ESA Φ-lab-enabled satellites launched

MANTIS, the first satellite mission to be supported from concept to liftoff by ESA’s Earth Observation InCubed programme, has been launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. MANTIS carries a high-resolution multispectral camera coupled with a powerful AI processing unit. Intuition-1 was also launched on the same rocket and will similarly demonstrate the advantages of onboard AI capabilities, in this case in tandem with a hyperspectral imager. The satellite’s machine learning algorithms were developed under the ESA-funded Genesis project.

The two satellites lifted off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, US, at 18:49 GMT (19:49 CET, 10:49 PST) on 11 November.

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Nourishing commercial growth in Earth observation

Hot on the heels of the first Earth Observation Commercialisation Forum, now is a good time to take a look at the all-embracing support that ESA gives to the commercial sector in Europe. With funding programmes, business guidance for companies, and multiyear contracts, ESA provides a vital springboard for continued growth in commercial Earth observation.

The global Earth observation data and service market is estimated to be worth around €2 billion every year and predicted to increase to €7–9 billion by 2032. But despite this wealth of opportunity at a global level, companies in the commercial Earth observation sector in Europe may find getting off the ground difficult owing to the complexity of navigating the investment landscape.

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Relive the Earth Observation Commercialisation Forum

ESA’s first Earth Observation Commercialisation Forum took place at ESA Headquarters in Paris on 30–31 October 2023. The event saw investors, institutions, entrepreneurs and different-sized companies from the Earth observation sector come together to discuss the commercial potential and challenges of Earth observation. Revisit the event by watching the streaming replay.

In his opening address, ESA’s Director General, Josef Aschbacher, said, “Advancing commercial space in Europe is one of the key components of Agenda 2025, which I set as an ambitious vision when I took over the position of ESA Director General.

“The fast-growing Earth observation sector has an abundance of possibilities that private businesses can capitalise on, from satellites and ground infrastructure through to value-added services that address real-world needs with information from space.”

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