Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Tokyo. SAR imagery provided by Capella Space.

Tech

A New Satellite Can Peer Inside Buildings, Day or Night

A few months ago, a company called Capella Space launched a satellite capable of taking clear radar images of anywhere in the world, with incredible resolution — even through the walls of some buildings.

And unlike most of the huge array of surveillance and observational satellites orbiting the Earth, its satellite Capella 2 can snap a clear picture during night or day, rain or shine.

“It turns out that half of the world is in nighttime, and half of the world, on average, is cloudy,” CEO Payam Banazadeh, a former system engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told Futurism. “When you combine those two together, about 75 percent of Earth, at any given time, is going to be cloudy, nighttime, or it’s going to be both. It’s invisible to you, and that portion is moving around.”

On Wednesday, Capella launched a platform allowing governmental or private customers to request images of anything in the world — a capability that will only get more powerful with the deployment of six additional satellites next year. Is that creepy from a privacy point of view? Sure. But Banazadeh says that it also plugs numerous holes in the ways scientists and government agencies are currently able to monitor the planet.

“There’s a bunch of gaps in how we’re currently observing Earth from space — the majority of the sensors we use to observe earth are optical imaging sensors,” he said. “If it’s cloudy, you’re going to see the clouds, not what’s happening under the clouds. And if there’s not much light, you’re going to have a really hard time getting an image that is useful.”

By contrast, Capella can peer right through cloud cover, and see just as well in the daylight as in total darkness. That’s because instead of optical imaging, it uses synthetic aperture radar, or SAR.

 

Roswell International Air Center, New Mexico. SAR imagery provided by Capella Space.

SAR works similarly to how dolphins and bats navigate using echolocation. The satellite beams down a powerful 9.65 GHz radio signal toward its target, and then collects and interprets the signal as it bounces back up into orbit. And because the satellite is sending down its own signal rather than passively capturing light, sometimes those signals can even penetrate right through a building’s wall, peering at the interior like Superman’s X-ray vision.

“At that frequency, the clouds are pretty much transparent,” Banazadeh told Futurism. “You can penetrate clouds, fog, moisture, smoke, haze. Those things don’t matter anymore. And because you’re generating your own signal, it’s as if you’re carrying a flashlight. You don’t care if it’s day or night.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Capella didn’t invent SAR. But Banazadeh says it’s the first U.S. company to offer the technology, and the first worldwide to offer a more accessible platform for potential customers to use.

“Part of the challenge in this industry is that working with satellite imagery providers has been difficult,” he explained. “You might have to send a bunch of emails to find out how they could collect images for you. In some instances, you might have to send a fax.”

Another innovation, he says, is the resolution at which Capella’s satellites can collect imagery. Each pixel in one of the satellite’s images represents a 50-centimeter-by-50-centimeter square, while other SAR satellites on the market can only get down to around five meters. When it comes to actually discerning what you’re looking at from space, that makes a huge difference.

Cityscapes are particularly intriguing. Skyscrapers poke out of the Earth like ghostly, angular mushrooms — and, if you look carefully, you notice that you can see straight through some of them. You won’t be able to on the below image because it’s too compressed, but Banazadeh said that the original image was so detailed you could check out individual rooms.

 

Tokyo. SAR imagery provided by Capella Space.

Right now, that’s as good a resolution as is possible with SAR. Not because of technological limitations — Capella hopes to improve with subsequent satellite launches down the road — but because of U.S. law.

And interestingly, that resolution cap is the only limit that the law places on services like Capella’s. As long as the company don’t improve the resolution a hair beyond what it’s at now, Banazadeh said its satellites can image any part of the world that a paying customer asks for — even technically the inside of a home.

Those customers, he explained, could be government agencies monitoring a hostile military for movement or tracking an airport for activity. That’s where that wall-penetrating vision comes into play. Banazadeh gave the example of an airport where planes hidden under a canopy became clear as day thanks to SAR satellites. The customers may also be scientists peering through the thick clouds of the Amazon rainforest to track deforestation, or even investors checking up on global supply chains.

Possibilities abound. Train two SAR satellites on the same target and they can actually image targets in three dimensions down to minute differences in height. Banazadeh said one group is already using that trick to measure how much oil is being stored in open-top oil tanks or how much is being extracted from an open-pit mine on a given day — and using that information as a proxy for the value of various commodities. That can also help authorities monitor infrastructure for possible safety issues: SAR can track how much the ground above a tunnel sinks over time, for example.

“We’re making it very easy for people with all sorts of backgrounds to interact with a company like us, and that inevitably is going to bring a more users that previously couldn’t access this market,” Banazadeh said. “That’s our hope.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Personalized Keto Diet Plan that works. Guaranteed

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Like us on Facebook

Advertisement Enter

Embark your Weight Loss journey Today

You May Also Like

Celebrities

 Stivo Simpleboy with Mzungu bae ‘Vijana tuache mihadarati’ hit maker Stivo simple boy has caught his fans by surprise after he released a photo...

Celebrities

Amber Ray’s ex-husband laughs at her new relationship Socialite Amber Ray has been making headlines the past few days after she publicly acknowledged being...

Celebrities

Akothee advises her daughter to choose money over love Celebrity mother Akothee has advised her daughter Rue baby to never settle for less when...

Celebrities

Size8 set to advise her fans on how to maintain a good marriage Gospel musician Size 8 reborn is set to talk to her...

Celebrities

Story of Marggy Praiser, gospel musician singing Gengetone Gengetone music has not always been everybody’s cup of coffee. In fact, when it started, there...

Celebrities

Harmonize talks about sleeping with Paula Kajala Tanzanian Bongo musician Harmonize found himself in the middle of a scandal after Rayvanny accused him of...

Celebrities

Bahati Kenya unveils his first-ever girlfriend Kenyan musician Bahati Kenya is known to do anything to chase clout before the release of a new...

Celebrities

Dr. Ezekiel Mutua defends Rev. Lucy Natasha’s tattoo City woman of God Rev. Lucy Natasha stirred a heated debate online after she released photos...

Advertisement