Iceye, a provider of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite imaging, has introduced a new imaging mode called Dwell. This mode allows satellites to focus on a specific area for 25 seconds, providing more detailed and specialized imaging compared to Iceye’s traditional 10-second views.

The purpose of the Dwell imaging mode is to aid analysts in quickly differentiating between human-made objects (such as buildings and vehicles) and natural features like forests, fields, ice, and water. By analyzing the way microwave pulses reflect off objects, the algorithm can identify distinct patterns that indicate the presence of man-made structures. In contrast, natural features exhibit similar microwave reflections across a given area.

To visually highlight built objects in the Dwell imagery, Iceye uses bright colors. This enables analysts to easily identify and differentiate human-made structures from the surrounding environment.

The introduction of the Dwell imaging mode enhances Iceye’s SAR capabilities and provides valuable tools for various applications, including urban monitoring, infrastructure assessment, and surveillance.

Iceye recognizes the continued importance of human analysts in interpreting satellite imagery and aims to facilitate their work by making radar imagery more accessible to those without extensive experience in the field. The Dwell imaging mode, with its extended focus time of 25 seconds, not only enhances image quality and clarity but also allows both novice and experienced analysts to derive valuable insights from the data.

By focusing on an area for a longer duration, Dwell imagery can provide increased acuity and detail, enabling analysts to discern subtle features and patterns. This makes the mode beneficial for both analysts who are new to radar imagery and those with expertise in the field.

Dwell imaging is particularly useful for detecting objects hidden under foliage, such as tanks or equipment concealed by trees. The microwaves have a higher chance of penetrating the foliage and reflecting back from the hidden objects, providing valuable information for analysis.

John Cartwright, ICEYE’s data product head, highlighted that Dwell imagery will aid users in comprehending and characterizing ground activities and changes, regardless of lighting and weather conditions. By offering a comprehensive view of the monitored areas, Iceye’s Dwell mode enhances the understanding of various phenomena and facilitates effective decision-making processes.

BlackSky & Spire Global have joined forces to offer a new global monitoring service that utilizes satellite technology to track ships. This service called the “maritime custody service” leverages radio frequency emissions to automatically task satellite imagery, detect and classify vessels, and provide continuous monitoring of maritime activities.

Spire Global’s radio-frequency monitoring satellites play a key role in detecting emissions from ships and identifying dark vessels that manipulate their reported positions to engage in suspicious activities. By analyzing radio-frequency data, the system can identify vessels that may be involved in illicit behavior. This information is then used to tip BlackSky’s satellites to collect relevant imagery of the identified vessels.

BlackSky’s Spectra AI platform, which operates in the cloud, uses artificial intelligence to analyze the electro-optical images captured by the satellites. The AI algorithms are designed to detect vessels, estimate cargo, and monitor changes over time. Additionally, the maritime tracking service incorporates synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data from third-party satellites to complement the visible imagery. SAR technology is capable of penetrating clouds and darkness, providing valuable insights even in challenging weather conditions.

Spire’s satellites are responsible for tracking vessels emitting automatic identification system (AIS) data, as well as detecting spoofed AIS signals and other very high frequency (VHF) signals. By monitoring these signals, the system can enhance its understanding of vessel movements and potentially identify any suspicious activities.

By combining the capabilities of radio-frequency monitoring, electro-optical imagery analysis, and SAR technology, the maritime custody service offered by BlackSky & Spire Global provides comprehensive monitoring and tracking of ships worldwide. This service has the potential to support various applications, such as maritime security, anti-piracy efforts, and environmental monitoring in oceans and seas.

BlackSky & Spire Global’s maritime custody service offers the capability to track approximately 270,000 vessels worldwide, whether they are in open water, rivers, and canals, or docked at ports. This extensive monitoring ability is crucial for various purposes such as national security, detecting illicit ship-to-ship transfers, combating smuggling and sanctions evasion, and monitoring illegal fishing activities in restricted areas.

Iain Goodridge, Senior Director of Radio Frequency Geolocation Products at Spire, emphasized the importance of identifying, locating, and continuously monitoring ships, particularly those that manipulate their reported location. Dark shipping activity has significant impacts on the global economy, the environment, and people’s safety, making it vital to have robust tracking capabilities.

The data obtained through the service has multiple applications, including the ability to anticipate the consequences of port congestion and shipping delays on global and regional supply chains. By analyzing the insights provided by the monitoring service, stakeholders can make informed decisions to mitigate potential disruptions and optimize logistical operations.

Patrick O’Neil, Chief Innovation Officer at BlackSky, highlighted the service’s focus on delivering timely insights with minimal latency throughout the entire process, from tasking and collection to processing, exploitation, and dissemination. This ensures that the information is provided efficiently, enabling users to act promptly based on the received intelligence.

The ocean energy plays a crucial role in sustaining life on Earth and is essential for our well-being. They provide us with oxygen, regulate climate patterns through ocean currents, and contribute to weather patterns. Additionally, the oceans have the potential to generate significant renewable energy.

Scientists estimate that the power contained in the waves washing up on America’s coastline is substantial enough to meet the energy needs of a significant portion of homes and businesses. This highlights the vast potential of ocean energy as a renewable resource.

As the world’s energy demand continues to grow, it is imperative to shift towards renewable sources of energy to mitigate the impact of climate change and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. By harnessing the power of the oceans, we can make significant progress in meeting the world’s energy needs in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.

Investing in renewable energy sources such as ocean energy is crucial for the future of our planet. It not only helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also promotes a more sustainable and resilient energy infrastructure.

The use of satellite technology plays a crucial role in gathering data for PacWave and supporting wave energy innovation. Buoys equipped with various sensors are strategically placed across the region where PacWave operates. These buoys collect important data such as temperature and motion, providing valuable insights into ocean conditions.

To transmit this data, Globalstar’s SmartOne Solar devices are utilized. These compact and durable satellite transmitters are powered by sunlight and have a lifespan of up to 10 years. The buoys transmit the collected data to Globalstar satellites orbiting the Earth, which then relay the information back to researchers on the ground.

By leveraging the SPOT My Globalstar online system, PacWave researchers can easily access the location of each buoy, import the data received, and receive alerts if any buoys drift away from their designated positions. This real-time tracking and data transmission system allows researchers to stay informed about the status and movements of the buoys, ensuring the integrity and reliability of the collected data.

The continuous stream of data obtained from these buoys and transmitted via satellite enables innovators and researchers to accelerate their testing and learning processes. By analyzing the collected data, they can gain insights into the performance of wave energy devices, identify failures and their causes, and explore potential solutions. This iterative process helps advance the development of ocean energy technologies and brings us closer to realizing a sustainable energy future.

Through the combination of satellite technology, oceanic data collection, and wave energy innovation, researchers are making significant strides in harnessing the power of the ocean and unlocking the potential of wave energy as a renewable energy source.

On May 10, AT&T submitted a regulatory request to lease wireless spectrum to AST SpaceMobile for the purpose of connecting smartphones in the United States to AST SpaceMobile’s planned satellite constellation. The agreement between the two companies includes the majority of AT&T’s low-band frequencies, which AST SpaceMobile intends to utilize to enhance AT&T’s coverage nationwide.

To enable wireless transmissions between smartphones and satellites, the companies require approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). AST SpaceMobile’s Chief Strategy Officer, Scott Wisniewski, mentioned that this authorization could be obtained through a permit for their spectrum leasing arrangement. Another possible avenue for approval is a rulemaking process proposed by the FCC called “Supplemental Coverage from Space,” which was put forward on March 17.

Both authorization approaches were discussed in a recent public hearing on this topic, with the FCC expressing encouragement for both methods. Ultimately, FCC approval will be crucial for AT&T and AST SpaceMobile to proceed with their plans to leverage satellite connectivity and address coverage gaps in the United States.

AST SpaceMobile has an additional request pending with the FCC seeking permission to transmit V-band frequencies from its proposed low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to gateways for backhaul purposes. This request is part of AST SpaceMobile’s broader plans to establish a comprehensive satellite communication network.

In collaboration with AT&T and Rakuten, a Japanese telecommunications company, AST SpaceMobile successfully conducted its first voice call on April 20 using an unmodified Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone and its BlueWalker 3 test satellite. The tests with BlueWalker 3 are ongoing, with the objective of demonstrating the satellite’s capability to provide communication services at speeds typically associated with 5G networks.

AST SpaceMobile intends to launch its initial five commercial satellites in the first quarter of 2024 using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. These satellites will be instrumental in the realization of AST SpaceMobile’s vision for a global satellite communication network, facilitating connectivity and communication services across various locations.

AST SpaceMobile’s Block 1 satellites, named after their development phase, are similar in size to the 1,500-kilogram BlueWalker 3 satellite. These Block 1 satellites are expected to be launched first. Following them, AST SpaceMobile plans to launch 20 larger Block 2 satellites later in 2024, which will be approximately 50% larger than those in Block 1.

AT&T has not provided specific details regarding the commercial deployment timeline for its partnership with AST SpaceMobile in the United States. However, AST SpaceMobile has indicated that the Block 2 satellites are necessary to provide coverage to the most commercially viable markets.

Lynk Global, a Virginia-based company that is also seeking authorization to offer direct-to-device commercial services in the US, has not disclosed its spectrum partner yet. SpaceX, on the other hand, announced last year that it would utilize spectrum from T-Mobile to enable direct connectivity between standard smartphones and its upgraded satellites in the low Earth orbit (LEO) constellation.