Microsoft and Esri to speed up access to Earth-observation data

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PARIS – To speed up access to Earth observation data for millions of customers, Esri is closely integrating its ArcGIS geographic mapping platform with Microsoft Azure Space.

“We’re putting the entire technology stack in Azure Space data centers,”  Richard Cooke, Esri, imagery and remote sensing director, told SpaceNews at the World Satellite Business Week conference here. “We are co-locating our technology by the antennas to reduce the latency, automate a lot of the post-processing and get to the meaningful data as quickly as possible.”

Microsoft made a series of announcements Sept. 11, including partnerships with Esri and Synthetaic.

Synthetaic on Azure Space

Synthetaic, a startup that uses artificial intelligence to analyze geospatial data, announced a strategic partnership Aug. 29 with Microsoft. As part of the five-year deal, Synthetaic will have access to extensive cloud compute resources.

Synthetaic is integrating its technology with Azure Space to harness the “speed and versatility of AI to process geospatial, static and video imagery for a range of use cases,” including national security, disaster response, environmental and sustainability operations, Synthetaic said in a news release.

NASA, Planetary Computer and Muon

Azure Space also added the Planetary Computer, a Microsoft platform that combines multi-petabyte global datasets related to biodiversity and climate change with machine-learning tools. “Think about the PC as a foundational data management toolset that allows users to manage geosptail data in the cloud in a standardized fashion,” said Steve Kitay, Azure Space senior director.

In addition, NASA Langley Research Center, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Kongsberg Satellite Services demonstrated rapid acquisition, processing and distribution of Earth science data products by working with Azure Space.

The NASA centers linked KSAT and Azure Orbital ground stations with NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization Earth-observation and weather satellites: Terra, Aqua, Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership and NOAA-20. The demonstration showed that processed data could reach customers within 25 minutes, according to the Microsoft news release.

Another Azure Orbital customer, Muon Space, launched its first weather satellite in June.

“Since we’re building constellations of remote sensing spacecraft with unique revisit, resolution and data latency capabilities, our ground station partner was a critical choice,” Jim Martz, Muon vice president engineering, said in a statement. Muon selected Azure Orbital Ground station based on its capabilities and product roadmap.  

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