Finnish space technology startup Iceye is planning to launch SAR imaging microsatellites. By setting up this micro satellite SAR constellation, they plan to be able to deliver SAR imagery in near-real-time to a vast variety of consumers and users, something which is not currently possible. Radar / SAR image analysts will love their tagline: From space, through clouds and darkness. They have already secured lot of seed funding and also have support from the EU Horizon 2020 program. Iceye claims to have squeezed radar imaging sensors into a microsatellite platform 20 times lighter than current government SAR satellites, and using COTS electronics allows for cost reduction and a faster technology update cycle.
Let’s see how many years they take to set up their microsatellite SAR constellation and transmission network. I wonder how their ground segment will be set up. Will they give small receiving antennas to regular consumers, just like portable satellite communication boxes or satellite telephones? Or will they deliver their near-real-time products through web / ftp?
Efforts are also underway to deliver SAR imagery in near-real-time from existing SAR satellites. Take a look at this recent blog post about DLR’s experiment with the Space Data Highway for near-real-time SAR image delivery.