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Space-Data-as-a-service – The promise and power of extraterrestrial data

Sudarshan Sahu
7th February 2024

Imagine Captain Picard exploring galaxies with space data from satellites, telescopes, and the ISS. Rising data volume and private space ventures make launches affordable, unlocking opportunities and sparking innovations across sectors.

The demand for space data is on the rise, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Space data offers immense value for various industries and sectors. From scientific research to commercial applications and governmental policymaking, the demand for space data is driven by its versatility and ability to provide critical insights. Further, with the expansion of the space economy, large and small businesses are embracing new business models, including Space-Data-as-a-Service (SDaaS).

Space data is essential for addressing a wide array of societal, economic, and scientific challenges. It provides a unique vantage point from space that enables us to monitor, understand, and respond to changes and events on Earth and beyond. This can include information about weather patterns, natural disasters, agriculture, urban development, climate change, and much more.

Satellites and space missions: At the heart of SDaaS are the satellites and space missions that capture a vast array of data about our planet and the cosmos. These include Earth observation satellites, weather satellites, space telescopes, and planetary missions.

Data acquisition and processing: SDaaS providers use ground stations and advanced data-processing techniques to receive, process, and analyze the data collected by satellites. This involves converting raw data into usable formats and extracting relevant information.

Data storage and management: Managing the enormous volumes of space data requires robust storage and management systems. Cloud computing and big data technologies are often employed to store, organize, and retrieve data efficiently.

Data visualization and analysis tools: To make sense of the data, SDaaS platforms offer data visualization tools and analytics capabilities. Users can create maps, charts, and models to gain insights from the information.

There has been number of applications of SDaaS. Satellite data along with remote sensing technology can support scientists and conservationists to identify, track, monitor, and access wildlife in the most remote areas around the world, including marine habitats. Farmers and agricultural organizations can access satellite imagery and climate data to optimize crop planning, monitor soil conditions, and enhance yield predictions. Space data also aids in disaster preparedness and response by providing real-time information on natural disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes. Urban planners use space data to monitor urban growth, traffic patterns, and land use, helping cities make informed decisions about infrastructure development. Environmental conservationists rely on space data to monitor wildlife habitats, deforestation, and illegal activities such as poaching and logging.

SDaaS provides access to real-time and high-resolution data, enabling faster decision-making and more precise planning. Organizations can save costs by outsourcing data acquisition and processing, eliminating the need for expensive satellite infrastructure. Space data is not limited by borders, providing valuable insights on a global scale, which is especially critical for international organizations and governments. Space data can also help mining companies map emissions, monitor shipments along the supply chain, and improve exploration efforts by identifying mineral-rich areas. The commercial sector can harness space data for various purposes, including telecommunications, agriculture, and natural resource exploration.

For decades, satellite data was primarily available for government and defense purposes. Further, considerable private sector investment in space-related technological innovation has led to unprecedented levels of access to space for organizations of all shapes and sizes. For example, Coca-Cola has been using various data sets such as satellite imagery and weather data to help manage some of its more remote, inaccessible locations, for internet access and supply chain management. Similarly, Scottish companies are planning to achieve net zero by 2045 using space data to create crop maps for agricultural supply chains, using satellite and sensor data to monitor peatlands, and assessing global shipping emissions from space.

The rise in space economy is driven by the introduction of low-cost satellites by increasing accessibility to space for a wide range of organizations and purposes. Further, advancements in miniaturization of satellite components (CubeSats) and the development of reusable launch vehicles (like SpaceX Falcon 9 and Blue Origin) have reduced launch costs from $65,000 per kilogram to $1,500 per kilogram, a greater than 95 percent decrease. According to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, the number of satellites launched into space has grown by 95 percent in 2022 compared to 2020. In addition, McKinsey estimates there will be more than 27,000 active satellites in orbit by the end of 2030, almost a four-fold increase from today.

Despite its immense potential, space-data-as-a-service faces challenges, including data security, privacy concerns, data latency, and the growing problem of space debris. However, with ongoing advancements in satellite technology and data analytics, these challenges can be addressed.

Space data will enable us to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges, such as climate change, disaster response, and food security.

Considering all the facts

SDaaS has revolutionized the way we use information collected from space, democratizing access to space data and making it accessible to a broader range of users. It has enabled innovative applications across various sectors and has the potential to drive advancements in science, technology, and decision-making processes.

Overall, the future of space data as a service promises to be dynamic and transformative, with increasing opportunities for innovation, economic growth, and addressing global challenges through the insights derived from space-based data. However, it will also require careful consideration of ethical, environmental, and regulatory issues to ensure responsible and sustainable use of space resources.

Innovation takeaways

GLOBAL SPACE DATA COLLABORATION

The commercialization of space data has opened up a range of new business opportunities. This model of global cooperation can serve as a valuable example for addressing other global challenges, such as climate change, public health, and disaster response.

REAL-TIME DATA SHARING

Near-real-time data transmission enables quicker responses to emergencies and rapidly changing conditions critical for disaster management, maritime navigation, and aviation safety.

DATA-POWERED DECISION MAKING 

Space data reinforces the importance of data-driven decision-making. The ability to collect vast amounts of data from space and convert it into actionable information has implications for businesses, governments, and organizations across various sectors.

Interesting read?

Capgemini’s Innovation publication, Data-powered Innovation Review | Wave 7 features 16 such fascinating articles, crafted by leading experts from Capgemini, and partners like Aible, the Green Software Foundation, and Fivetran. Discover groundbreaking advancements in data-powered innovation, explore the broader applications of AI beyond language models, and learn how data and AI can contribute to creating a more sustainable planet and society.  Find all previous Waves here.

Sudarshan Sahu

Process Lead, Emerging Technology Team, Data Futures Domain, Capgemini
Sudarshan possesses deep knowledge in emerging big data technologies, data architectures, and implementing cutting-edge solutions for data-driven decision-making. He is enthusiastic about exploring and adopting the latest trends in big data, blending innovation with practical strategies for sustainable growth. At the forefront of the industry, currently he is working on projects that harness AI-driven analytics and machine learning to shape the next generation of big data solutions. He likes to stay ahead of the curve in big data trends to propel businesses into the future.