New Space Podcast: Ursa’s Eric Cote on The Rapid Commercialization of Space

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John Severance, host of the New Space Podcast, spoke recently with Ursa Space’s Eric Cote, Director of Data and Analytics Services.

In the episode, John and Eric discuss the role that Ursa plays bringing commercial imagery from multiple providers under a single roof and using these resources to create analytics that solve customer problems.

Listen to the episode here.

You can also read about the episode below, which was written by New Space Podcast.

 


 

Why Not Get All the Earth Observation Data?

The rapid commercialization of space has produced innovation after innovation. We have more satellites collecting more data of all types. And it’s not slowing down anytime soon.

For customers who are interested in Earth Observation (EO) data, the choices are plenty—from the data provider to the type of data collected. But what about the option to choose the best data available that will help you answer your question, regardless of the data provider or type?

That part of space commercialization was a vacuum—until Ursa Space filled it.

Ursa pulls its EO data from third-party constellations, aggregates the data, and then relies on its unique insights and expertise to analyze this fused data with an eye toward addressing specific customer needs.  

“We’ve found that across market verticals, even the most sophisticated organizations just struggle to buy and use Earth observation data,” says Eric Cote, Ursa’s Director of Data and Analytics Services. “Ursa solves this problem by coordinating purchases from hundreds of satellites.”

“With that virtual constellation, rather than focusing on any specific set of hardware ourselves, we really find that we can address the customer’s needs in the best fashion, leveraging all the benefits that each of the individual constellations that comprise our network have to offer.”

The Benefits of a Virtual Constellation

This approach empowers Ursa to provide the best possible data to its clients. By parsing through its voluminous roster of data partners and choosing the most relevant partner and data type, Ursa ensures that each customer use case is approached with an unbiased eye focused on solutions.

“Where Ursa really shines is that it has multiple data sources that we’re trying to fuse together,” Eric says. “And by leveraging all those different sources, we can really get much more accurate information.”

Using the Full Spectrum of EO Data

With Ursa purchasing EO data from hundreds of existing satellites, how can customers be sure the data they’re getting is the data they need? It’s all about the process.

“[We] really look for the best, the highest-quality providers that are out there across the various satellite data sources,” Eric says. “We’ll look for the highest resolutions that are available, or high signal-to-noise, to give you very high-quality imagery.”

“We’re looking for something that changes based on a given customer’s requirements,” Eric says. “We … leverage lower resolution imagery … where it makes sense, and then we layer that in with your optical data sources, RF data sources … passive RF sensing sources.”

Then, depending on the specific need, “That might have us cue a higher resolution, SAR image so we could take a closer look and understand exactly what’s happening.”

“When you look at the commercialization of space and what it’s enabling, a lot of the new customers … they don’t care about the data,” Eric says. “They don’t want to look at pixels. They don’t want to analyze or understand an image. They just want an answer to a problem. And so at Ursa, that’s kind of our main goal. … If we can get them an answer to a problem or they don’t ever need to see an image, they don’t need to see a source data set [or] know anything about it, but they can just trust confidently that it’s the answer.”

This type of choose-the-best-available-data-to-address-the-specific-need approach ensures that Ursa’s diverse and growing customer base is satisfied. And it helps Ursa keep up with a trend Eric has noticed in the satellite world: a demand for near-real-time EO data.

Much of the data Ursa uses is “very fresh; it’s not months old, but it’s hours old or even minutes old,” Eric says. “And then we can take that data and, using alerts, much like your home security system … might have, you can choose to cue other sensors and get more … information that’s relevant to the problem at hand.”

Focusing on the Solution

With Ursa’s unique approach, sharp insights, and ability to comb through and combine data sets, the company has carved a niche in the new space industry that until recently was missing.

“We tend to view ourselves sometimes as the experts’ expert,” Eric says. “Experts in these different fields will come to us and they might know a lot about some of these data sets, but Ursa can do something for them that nobody else can.”

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