tech track papers

Categories: 2019, Space Data Products and Services

Emergence of Micro-Satellites as Powerful RF Analytics Tools

In the past, satellites under 100 kg in size were largely viewed as experimental — useful for university education and research programs, but not considered to be viable for commercial applications. But the industry and technology are now transitioning into a phase where startups are deploying low-cost constellations of micro-satellites to deliver true value to customers, both in earth sensing and communication. This paper reviews how micro-satellites are being leveraged to gather new forms of data that enable processing and analysis for end-user solutions. The deployment of constellations promises faster revisit times and delivery of commercial services that were formally limited to the domain of national actors with large-scale satellite platforms. HawkEye 360 is a premier example of a young company that has successfully launched micro-satellites, being the first to commercialize radio frequency (RF) analytics generated from a space-based collection. The trio of Pathfinder satellites demonstrates sophisticated capabilities such as formation flying and trilateration of RF emissions, proving that micro-satellite technology has matured and promises a growing host of current and future applications.