Small Satellite Constellations Help Solve Geospatial and Atmospheric Problems

By: | March 15th, 2014

The era of huge multi-million dollar satellites is waning, giving way to an increase in the mass production of low weight satellites. Gone are the days of one-time stints. New satellites will more frequently operate in constellations, collect more data, beam it to earth and provide a better basis for policy decisions.

Orbcomm, for example, has a new constellation of communication satellites called OG2 that provide communications services to transportation, heavy equipment, oil & gas, maritime, governments and others. The company has received dozens of inquiries from companies interested in deploying small satellite constellations. According to the company, confidentiality agreements prohibit them from discussing specifics, but companies across all industries are using small arrays to demonstrate new data collection business models.

Another example is Skybox Imaging which designs, builds and operates satellite constellations, including software, such as Earth observation 2.0, which observes Earth from orbit and monitors the environment, meteorology and map making. The company also collects and sells data from deployed satellite constellations through its SkyNode System data plans, sells sub-meter satellite imagery and full-motion video. It also provides off-the-shelf analytical reports created from thousands of data collections.

Finally, the Iridium satellite constellation provides voice and data coverage to satellite phones, pagers and transceivers around the earth. Iridium has 66 orbiting satellites in lower earth orbit  at a height of 481 miles (781 km) running on Motorola/Freescale PowerPC 603E processors running at 200 MHz. Here’s a look at what Iridium is used for:

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David Russell Schilling

David enjoys writing about high technology and its potential to make life better for all who inhabit planet earth.

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