Metaspectral announced recently that it will be developing a new Earth observation payload for the International Space Station.
According to the announcement, which came on the anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moonwalk, payload is known as “Onboard Programmable Technology for Image Classification and Analysis, or OPTICA. It will enable real-time compression, streaming, and analysis of hyper-spectral data from Low Earth Orbit.
“The quality and quantity of imagery captured in space have been continuously increasing yet the bandwidth available to downlink it to Earth for analysis has been doing so at a much slower rate,” explains Francis Doumet, Metaspectral’s CEO. “Our technology makes it possible to bypass bandwidth constraints with our advances in data compression and machine learning. This project will demonstrate our platform’s ability to produce actionable insights within 15 minutes or less.”
The technology will enable real-time streaming and AI analysis of rich, hyper-spectral image data taken from space—such as the recently released James Webb Telescope images which are also hyper-spectral.
“Great strides have been made with optical intersatellite links in increasing the reliability of satellite communications, and our technology complements this by bringing in advanced data compression and streaming for hyperspectral data from orbit,” Dourmet noted.
OPTICA is scheduled for launch in early 2023 on the SpaceX CRS-27 mission, with a six-month deployment on the ISS following soon thereafter. The mission is sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory, which works in collaboration with NASA.
Hyper-spectral imagery captured by satellites contains data from across the electromagnetic spectrum which, when analyzed with artificial intelligence, can be used to quickly identify events on the Earth. Based in Vancouver, Metaspectral’s software is used in a variety of industries to identify materials, their chemical composition, and other invisible properties.
The company will be working with HySpeed Computing for this project, as well as Nanoracks.
“OPTICA represents the next evolution in space- and ground-based image processing,” said Dr. James Goodman, CEO of HySpeed Computing. “As the volume, variety, and velocity of Earth observation data continue to increase, developing efficiencies in data processing and information delivery will be paramount throughout the remote sensing industry.”