“You’ll see a lot more processing … on the satellites,” said Rich Carter, director for business development at Lockheed Martin Space Mission Solutions.
“It drives the speed of need. It gets the data into the hands of the users faster. That’s the key. Technology is going to keep getting better and we’re going to be able to get more data, so we need to do edge processing and get information to a user faster.”
Onboard processing is integral, as each satellite is outputting more data than ever before.
“Ten years ago you might have been getting satellite imagery, but it was megabytes,” Carter continued. “Now, due to HD imagery, you’re doing terabytes a day of information.”
In the past, the only way to process information was to manually analyze printouts or computer screens. Now, thanks to cloud computing, you can automatically integrate nodes, including both new and legacy systems, to yield better insights, faster.
“Lockheed Martin is investing heavily in using cloud-based solutions,” Carter said.
“If you want to reach as many people as possible in real time on their devices, the answer is the cloud. Our processing can sit in the cloud and make sure it’s all connected. More and more customers are going to the cloud every day.”
Startups like GHGSat also are bullish on the cloud.
“Moving to cloud infrastructure makes a lot of sense because it allows us to let people interact and interface with the data a lot quicker,” Gauthier said. “Once you have large quantities of data and you want the interaction to be very nimble, using cloud computing becomes very important.”
In the hands of users – for example, first responders looking for survivors after a disaster, scientists predicting the trajectory of a storm, private companies quantifying their carbon footprint or militaries planning a rescue operation – that kind of speed can improve lives on Earth and perhaps even save them.
“The possibilities are limitless in terms of what can be done in space,” said Gauthier.