In the UK’s space start-up environment right now, it’s one of the “hottest” tickets. With its intentions to launch a network of satellites to map heat signatures throughout the earth, Satellite Vu is generating a lot of attention. These observations have been made for a long time, but not with the frequency and resolution (3–4 m) that the London firm claims. As a result, Satellite Vu will be able to map the temperature profiles of specific workplaces, offices, and industries. The new thermal data sets can tell you where in a city the most inefficient housing stock is, where energy is being squandered, and where you should focus your insulation spending. The knowledge might significantly aid the nation in achieving its net-zero goal.
On Wednesday at the Farnborough Air Show, Satellite Vu will sign a contract for a second spacecraft. One is currently being constructed by Guildford firm Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL). By the end of 2025, another will bring Satellite Vu one-quarter of the way toward an ultimate eight-platform constellation in the sky.
During mid-wave infrared wavelengths, the spacecraft will be able to detect the ground (3.7-4.95 microns). That light is too bright for most Earth observation satellites and for human vision, yet that is the region where structures’ stored heat energy will be visible. “With infrared, you can see at night what you can see during the day. And while most other Earth remark data-sets only focus on the exterior of buildings, we can even infer what’s happening inside them, such as whether there is activity there, whether a home is occupied, whether a factory has productive machinery, etc. “stated Anthony Baker, Satellite Vu’s CEO and co-founder. The business has so far raised £20 million in capital. To test data processing techniques and show potential clients what is possible, a version of its satellite sensor has been flown on an aircraft.
The possibilities are endless, and Satellite Vu is collaborating with UK colleges and hosting hackathons to come up with fresh methods to make use of the data. The satellites will swiftly locate the buildings and open areas that worsen the urban heat island effect in addition to detailing the heat profiles of the buildings. These include the sizable parking lots at shopping malls, which raise the temperature in towns and cities. The optimal places to plant trees to cool the environment would become clear to planners.
By displaying how temperatures have changed in a scenario, the data will also be able to provide intelligence to the financial and insurance industries, as well as the military. For instance, the cool “ghost images” that planes leave behind after having earlier shaded the ground from the Sun can be used to determine when they have just left an airfield. The director of Earth observation at SSTL, Andrew Cawthorne, stated that this type of data set has never been made commercially available, at least not at this resolution. “Who would have believed that you could use infrared to keep an eye on the ocean for plastic pollution? These so-called “islands of plastic” will manifest as hotspots.”
Tobias Reinicke, co-founder, and chief technical officer of Satellite Vu, believes that one of the company’s primary uses will be to assess the effectiveness of the enormous solar farms that are currently cropping up throughout the UK. “Solar panels have additional issues as their temperature rises. Undoubtedly, failures on centimeter scales will be seen using drones, but that is rather expensive. According to him, “We can routinely monitor the farms to find breakdowns in extended strings of panels.” Recently, Satellite Vu received funding from the UK Space Agency (UKSA) to aid in the development of the infrared sensor. “A highly fascinating commercializing field is earth observation. There are many outstanding businesses, and whether they have their headquarters in the UK or not, they all aspire to work in the UK,” as per UKSA CEO Paul Bate.