#SpaceWatchGL Opinion: ISU SSP22 Special – Team Project – Down 2 Earth

By Gary Martin, Carolina Sá, Raphael Roettgen and Camilo Andrés Reyes

Group photos at Deimos Engenharia; photo courtesy of Gary Martin

This summer has been amazing at Instituto Superior Técnico – Tagus Park in Oeiras, Portugal, especially for the energetic, driven and inspiring people who make up the Down 2 Earth team project. Under the proposed theme of space for non-space, the team focused on the downstream value chain trying to identify potential gaps and suggesting new ideas to drive the adoption of space data. by the non-space sectors. They worked and played long hours throughout the International Space University (ISU) Space Studies Program 2022 (SSP22) nine-week course and pooled their expertise and creativity to bring a significant contribution to the space community. The research carried out by the project team was carried out at the request of the International Space University, the Portuguese space agency – Portugal Space and supported by AWS (Amazon Web Services).

The team project brought together 23 talented participants from 11 countries. Team members have experienced first-hand how to work in the interdisciplinary, international and intercultural (3I) environment of UIS. To be successful, they had to self-organize, agree on the scope of the project, divide up the work, and create a detailed work plan for the entire project. During the first weeks of data collection for the project, the team met with experts in person and online (e.g. representatives from ESA, NASA, EUSPA, Planet, BCG and national companies and start-ups such as SpinWorks, Spotlite and Tesselo) and made professional visits to relevant local Portuguese organizations (e.g. Deimos Engenharia and the offices of Development Seed in Lisbon). The project requirements were to produce a final report of more than 120 pages and a very brilliant executive summary used to market their results. Another deliverable is the final presentation, where participants describe their project and research findings in a one-hour multimedia format. After the presentation, the whole team takes the stage to answer questions from a panel of external experts.

Group photos in the seed development offices in Lisbon; photo courtesy of Gary Martin

The team analyzed three major space data markets: Earth observation, satellite communications and GNSS. To begin, the team researched and summarized all available content from the three satellite data segments, producing a data inventory. This inventory lists available data, sorted by provider (both public and commercial), being a potential starting point for an open source global inventory, with search/filtering capabilities, of all available spatial data, particularly useful for support those working in the downstream sector who wish to explore available datasets and assess the feasibility of new application ideas or identify specific gaps in data availability (taking into account spatial, temporal and spectral resolutions).

The team continued its work by analyzing the current use, market and future trends of spatial data for 14 non-spatial sectors, producing a catalog summarizing key findings and applications for each of the sectors. After all preliminary research and analysis, the satellite communications and GNSS markets have been found to be mature with no significant gaps. However, they identified gaps for commercial satellite remote sensing on Earth.

The team identified the big data as being one of the major issues in the appropriation of Earth observation satellite data because it is not insignificant to transform such quantities of data generated daily into simple information with added value for non-expert users. Remote sensing satellites produce hundreds of terabytes of data daily, with hundreds of petabytes in storage. The team found that significant overhead is generated by building and maintaining pipelines that convert data into summarized, user-friendly information and solutions that create value for non-space industrial customers for decision-making and operations.

To fill this gap, the team developed two business cases, proposing solutions to reduce the overhead of turning data into valuable insights for non-space clients. The business cases outlined in the report aim to reduce the technical and financial costs for non-space customers using space-based remote sensing solutions, thereby promoting the adoption of space-based remote sensing solutions by non-space customers.

They also found that another significant gap was the general population’s lack of awareness of the usefulness of spatial data, recommending that more efforts are needed from businesses, government agencies and space agencies to put highlight the usefulness of spatial data.

In addition, the team also pointed out that a solution to ensure long-lasting accessibility and continuity of spatial data would benefit many downstream markets. Currently, downstream markets depend on the activities of government agencies/private sector without having any direct influence on how they operate.

In summary, in just a few weeks, they launched a comprehensive inventory of existing data providers, payloads and satellites worldwide to support the identification of opportunities and applications for non-space sectors. Additionally, they collected information on the current market status of 14 non-space sectors as well as their current uses of satellite data, identifying potential gaps. Then, based on their preliminary gap analysis, they proposed two business plans for new space applications companies that will help drive the adoption of satellite data across industries. They have produced an excellent and thoughtful report, which we believe will bring value to the space community beyond SSP22.

Want to hear the experience of an SSP22 participant? here you can listen to our interview with Schedir Illoldi on the day of the final presentations of the team projects.

From left to right: Gary Martin, Carolina Sá, Raphael Roettgen and Camilo Andrés Reyes; photo courtesy of Gary Martin

Gary Martin joined the ISU staff as Vice President of North American Operations in January 2020. He has focused his career on sustainable space exploration and development. He retired from NASA after 32 years of supporting space science missions, advanced technology development, technology transfer and human spaceflight. In 2002, he became NASA’s first space architect, leading the agency’s strategic planning, and the team provided the analysis used to develop the vision for space exploration announced by President Bush in 2004. For this work, he was awarded NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal. Mr. Martin was seconded from NASA to the International Space University in Strasbourg, France as the Space Studies Program Director for SSP06, SSP07, SSP12 and SSP13. Additionally, Mr. Martin has been elected to the ISU Academic Council several times and continues to lecture and lead team projects for various ISU programs.

Carolina Sá is the Head of Earth Observation of the Portuguese Space Agency – Portugal Space since December 2019, integrating the Portuguese National Delegation to the European Space Agency (PB-EO) and to the Copernicus User Forum of the Commission European Union and the Copernicus Committee. Before joining Portugal Space, she was a research fellow at the University of Lisbon, where she also taught satellite remote sensing to marine biologists. She holds a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Lisbon, specializing in the validation of ocean color satellite products and the development of algorithms for the monitoring of Portuguese coastal waters. She hates talking about herself in the third person but she loves good hikes!

Raphael Roettgen is the managing partner of E2MC Ventures, a space-focused early-stage venture capital firm. He lectures on space entrepreneurship and finance at several universities, including the International Space University (ISU) and the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), hosts the popular Space Business Podcast and is the author of an introductory book on spatial economics, currently available in German (“Hoch Hinaus”) and Portuguese (“Para Cima”), and to be published in English. He is a frequent speaker at conferences, such as so far in 2022, Spacecom, SmallSat Symposium and Paris Space Week. Previously, Mr. Roettgen held senior positions in global investment banks and hedge funds and was also a fintech entrepreneur in Brazil.

Camilo Reyes is from Bucaramanga, Colombia. He pursued his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Los Libertadores University in Bogota and his master’s degree in satellite technology at the University of Wurzburg, Germany. During the winter of 2013/2014, he completed an internship in the aeromechanical branch of the NASA Ames Research Center. In the summer of 2016, he enrolled in the International Space University where he obtained the degree in space studies with a specialization in space law and policy, and he also worked on the project design team of an artificial gravity space station. In 2017, Camilo completed a professional internship with the Colombian Air Force, and he also joined the Mars Society Peru and performed an analog simulation of Mars at MDRS in Utah.

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