Thanks to the Federal Communications Commission authorization, radar satellite company Umbra aims to collect imagery with a resolution of up to 15 cm per pixel. In February, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued Umbra, a Santa Barbara, California-based startup planning to deploy the very first X-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) microsatellite in 2021, an inventive license to run high-bandwidth SAR in 1,200 MHz bands focused on 9.8 GHz as well as low-bandwidth SAR in 600 MHz bands focused on 9.6 GHz.
Umbra co-founder, as well as president Gabe Dominocielo, described the FCC authorization as “hitting the legislative jackpot.” By email, Dominocielo explained that “bandwidth is the restricting factor in deciding slant range resolution as well as consequently ground plane resolution in the cross-track direction.” “The total bandwidth accessible to be used by the sensor is related to the enhancement in resolution,” Umbra revealed in January that it had secured $32 million in a funding round.
Instead of geospatial analytics, the firm intends to offer customers low-cost SAR data. Umbra obtained a license from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2018 to provide 25-centimeter resolution from the satellites in a sun-synchronous orbit of about 515-kilometer.
“Better resolution would be available to certain customers” with the latest FCC license, Umbra stated in an 11 March media release. “Umbra expects to be the first commercial manufacturer of such high-resolution radar devices in the United States, as well as to market imagery to customers in the United States as well as allies around the world.”
Dominocielo wouldn’t say if the highest-resolution imagery, as well as data from Umbra, were available to US intelligence and military agencies. Umbra aims to collect high-resolution SAR data to feed machine learning as well as artificial intelligence algorithms.
“The data that AI as well as machine learning algorithms are given is just as good as the data that they are given,” Dominocielo explained. “Inherently, high-resolution SAR photos are more important. Analytics companies and governments will be able to develop their Machine learning and artificial intelligence workflows thanks to better data.” In 2020, the Commerce Department updated commercial remote sensing satellite program rules, streamlining the authorization process to make American businesses more efficient globally.
The new regulations contrast remote sensing systems to similar programs that aren’t controlled by NOAA, such as those approved by other countries. When opposed to systems that provide advanced features, anything with similar functionality to what is currently accessible is now subject to limited regulation.