Remote Sensing

More on Earth Observation

This week’s main topic on the podcast focused on the role of Remote Sensing and Earth Observation. It seems to have been an unintentionally timely topic as the International Astronautical Conference is going on this week (Sept 27-Oct 1). News/press has already come out of the conference about some future satellites that will be up and running in the next few years. Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) plans to launch 3 satellites by 2013. The sensors on these satellites will range from high resolutions (1m and 4m pixel) to moderate resolution (20m pixel) with the potential to capture 600km swaths.

In association with the announcement, Sir Martin Sweeting, executive chairman of SSTL discussed the seed money that allowed SSTL to spin off of University of Surrey going on to say: “We’re not asking government to fund grand space programmes,” he told BBC News. “But there are some technologies and some business cases that we need the help of government just to get us over the hump – to get the wheels turning.”

I still think that we should of course continue to spend government money on satellites for earth observation purposes, though I am excited about the growth of the commercial sector in this area as well.