An interview with Vera Petryk, CMO at EOS Data Analytics, on the launch of its first agro-oriented satellite.
On January 3, 2023, EOS Data Analytics, a global provider of AI-powered satellite imagery analytics, successfully delivered its first agriculture-oriented satellite named EOS SAT-1 into a low Earth orbit. It’s a part of the EOS SAT project, the world’s first solely agri-focused constellation of seven satellites launched by a company utilizing remote sensing technologies.
Read on to find out why agricultural players and environmentalists need such satellites and how they can help adjust to climate change and reach food security and sustainability on Earth.
Vera, let’s start with the satellite launched by EOSDA. Could you please tell us more about it?
The launch was so exciting! We were privileged to get our satellite delivered into a low Earth orbit by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on January 3, 2023, along with 113 other satellites. Our teams had even gathered in their offices to watch the launch live. I’d like to give a shout-out to space.com for broadcasting the event.
EOS SAT-1 is our first small satellite. What makes it different from others is its focus on the agriculture industry: to better monitor farmlands, forests, and water bodies, it captures pictures in 11 spectral bands. Once they’re retrieved, EOS Data Analytics analyzes this data to provide reports and insights on the dynamics of crop vegetation, soil moisture, and water bodies.
A video explaining the possibilities the EOS SAT satellite constellation enables. Video: EOS Data Analytics
So your satellite is different from others because it makes unique pictures of the Earth?
Yes, the newest sensors on the satellite provide photos of higher resolution, introduce better coverage of the land, and, most importantly, track changes of all kinds in the air, vegetation, soil, and water. That’s a wrap-up of its advantages, but of course, there is more to it if we dive into technical details: more bands, better pointing stability and control accuracy, and we’ll be in full control over the data it collects.
To give you some numbers, once all seven satellites of our EOS SAT constellation reach full operation in 2025, we will be able to revisit certain areas on a daily basis, cover up to 100% of global cropland, and provide images with PAN resolution of up to 1.5m/pixel. That’s a big deal: such high detail will impress even the biggest skepticists in the industry.
Why seven satellites exactly? Is it enough to ensure data availability at all times?
We need seven satellites in sun-synchronous orbit because we plan to cover up to 9.4 million square kilometers per day and deliver actionable insights within 16-24 hours. Technically, we can even increase the daily coverage to 12 million square kilometers! This will allow our clients and partners to be always aware of the latest changes happening on their lands and get the most accurate insights on upcoming events.
In addition, six satellites launched after EOS SAT-1 will make imagery in 13 different spectral bands to provide more kinds of specific data about the lands and forests than any other third-party satellite.
If EOS SAT is only about better tracking of the state of the lands, how does it help reach food sustainability?
This aspect of the constellation excites me most of all.
Let’s start with the current situation of the market. Most satellite manufacturers and owners make profits from selling the images they retrieve. They don’t think about customer needs and their use cases – after all, if the satellite is already launched, you can’t change its tech specs and trajectory.
At EOS Data Analytics, we’ve always been driven by the vision of making space tech a global driver of the sustainability of Earth. Yes, EOS SAT is aimed to address many current challenges of agricultural businesses like high farming costs or lack of reliable and at the same time affordable data and means to interpret it. But looking into the perspectives of the industry, we realize the constellation capabilities should be future-proof. The technologies should allow for not only tackling current challenges but also preventing upcoming problems.
In other words, they should target reaching sustainability practices in agriculture. For that, remote sensing via EOS SAT is aligned with six out of seventeen of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
What are these goals, and how exactly can satellite data help reach them?
It’s Climate action, Clean water and sanitation, End hunger, Industry innovation and infrastructure, Responsible consumption and production, and Life on land.
If you have precise data and analytics on the state of the lands you’re taking care of, you can introduce the following practices:
- Knowing the levels of moisture in the soil, you can water your crops more precisely and thus decrease water usage
- Being always aware of the threats to your crop, you can eliminate pesticide and fertilizer overuse
- Streamlined operations also lead to cuts in energy consumption and reduced CO2 emissions
These are only three of many more straightforward ways how producers can mitigate the food crisis, weather through climate change and, ultimately, develop sustainable agriculture methods aligned with UN goals.
And the icing on the cake here is that the whole concept does not imply extra expenses: the cost of the analytics provided by our solutions is less than the savings from the precise agriculture methods they enable leveraging. And I’m not mentioning possible extra profit from carbon credits.
Food producers seem to benefit from EOS SAT the most. Can you explain in more detail how other organizations will change their everyday routine to reach sustainability once EOS SAT is fully operational?
Let’s say you work in water management. With EOS SAT, you can receive notifications about droughts and storms early and be able to nip their consequences in the bud, track water consumption based on previously collected data, and monitor the irrigation efforts taking place around lands of any size on a daily basis.
Just imagine how much more time it would take to collect and process such data manually!
Then, there are many non-farming organizations addressing the food crisis issues. One of the top reasons it is taking place is the decreasing amounts of moisture in the soil. The EOS SAT satellites can monitor soil moisture levels and water surfaces remotely to help such organizations find new lands in stress and promote ways to stop soil degradation according to the problem found, whether it is a general lack of water, greenhouse gas absorption, high evaporation rate, or poor drainage.
The bottom line is EOS SAT allows spending more time on addressing world issues, not researching them.
It might seem like your approach can be boiled down to simply being more data-driven in land management.
Oh no, not at all. The applicability of satellite data extends much farther than land management. Let me just tell you about some of the social projects we took part in recently.
In Chad, local communities had long been suffering from the shortage of natural resources caused by climate change. EOS Data Analytics provided them with a satellite map of local resources, which allowed indigenous communities to agree on the fair use of them and put an end to the conflict lasting for over 30 years.
In the Amazon, we helped track the damage to the soil and vegetation caused by oil spills and gold mining. In the US state of Virginia, Tangier island is slowly disappearing underwater, and satellite technologies allow calculating the pace of this process.
The data collected by EOS SAT provides unlimited possibilities for tracking the current and future consequences of natural and man-made disasters causing problems with food production.
The analytics provided by EOSDA is already used to track and forecast climate change and its effects on the soil based on previously collected historical data, monitor levels of carbon emissions, measure the greenhouse effect, and more.
So EOS SAT makes organizations all over the world not just data-driven; the way those satellites will function opens new ways to address climate change, prevent man-made catastrophes, and even stop national conflicts.
Do you have any preferable kinds of organizations you would like to work with in terms of reaching food sustainability on Earth?
Yes, we have the EOS Data Analytics Academic Outreach Program aimed to stimulate research, innovation, and progress for non-profit organizations, universities, scientists, and researchers, so these are our primary targets when we’re talking about food sustainability.
We are also always open to taking part in projects like the ones described above when satellite data and analysis can help make a positive impact on nature in the region in question.
How do you think EOS SAT can change the agriculture market apart from helping reach food sustainability?
At EOSDA, we hope that food production all over the world will eventually turn from low-intellectual labor into a highly profitable business that will help adjust to climate change and mitigate the upcoming food crisis. And with our EOS SAT constellation, we aim to take a key part in this process.