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EarthNow Aims to Deliver Real-Time Video of Earth via Satellite

By | April 20, 2018
NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) captured images of the moon’s shadow crossing over North America on Aug. 21. EPIC is aboard NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory. Photo: NASA.

NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) captured images of the moon’s shadow crossing over North America on Aug. 21. EPIC is aboard NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory. Photo: NASA.

EarthNow has announced it intends to deploy a large constellation of advanced imaging satellites that will deliver real-time, continuous video of almost anywhere on Earth. The latest company to spin-out from Intellectual Ventures, EarthNow recently closed a first round of financing with investments from Airbus, the SoftBank Group, Bill Gates, and Greg Wyler. The initial funding focuses primarily on maturing the overall system design to deliver real-time Earth observation services.

EarthNow uses an upgraded version of the satellite bus developed originally for the OneWeb communications service. Each satellite is equipped with more Central Processing Unit (CPU) cores than all other commercial satellites combined, according to the company.

“We created the world’s first low-cost, high-performance satellites for mass-production to bridge the digital divide,” said Greg Wyler, founder and executive chairman of OneWeb.“These very same satellite features will enable EarthNow to help humanity understand and manage its impact on Earth.”

Airbus plans to mass-produce the satellites using their production lines in Toulouse and Florida.

“We want to connect you visually with Earth in real-time. We believe the ability to see and understand the Earth live and unfiltered will help all of us better appreciate and ultimately care for our one and only home,” said EarthNow’s founder and CEO Russell Hannigan.

The company intends to differentiate itself from other Earth observation satellite systems that deliver pictures and sometimes video clips to users many minutes, hours and even days after they are requested. “With existing systems, users can see only what has happened in the past. With EarthNow’s constellation of satellites, you will see events unfold as they happen in real-time,” Hannigan said.

Initially, EarthNow will look to offer commercial video and intelligent vision services to government and enterprise customers. Applications include catching illegal fishing in the act, watching hurricanes and typhoons as they evolve, detecting forest fires the moment they start, watching volcanoes the instant they start to erupt, assisting the media in telling stories from around the world, tracking large whales as they migrate, helping “smart cities” become more efficient, providing on-demand data about crop health, and observing conflict zones around the world. In parallel, EarthNow plans to create compelling “live Earth video” mass market applications that can be accessed instantly from a smartphone or tablet. “We are excited by the prospect of giving everyone a stunningly-beautiful real-time window on your world from space. With EarthNow, we will all become virtual astronauts,” said Hannigan.