Last year, Microsoft announced Azure Space, making the powerful Azure cloud ecosystem available to the space community. Today, Microsoft has announced new partnerships and capabilities for Azure Space, including innovations like SpaceEye, which allows users to ‘see’ through clouds from satellites.
At any given time, two-thirds of the Earth is covered in clouds, making it much more difficult to observe Earth in space. Built on Azure by Microsoft Research, SpaceEye is an AI-based system that generates daily cloud-free optical and multi-image images of Earth. SpaceEye uses the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) engine from the Sentinel-1 mission to generate baseline data, since the radar is not affected by cloud cover, and then combines the radar data with optical data. learns history to create images AI predicts what the scene might look like under the clouds. Microsoft claims that ‘This could unlock important use cases in agriculture, land use monitoring, and disaster response among others.’
|An example of SpaceEye in use. Credit: Microsoft|
Microsoft Azure doesn’t stop there. The platform is also being used to prepare and enhance geospatial data. With Microsoft’s Turing Research, Azure Space has brought the fictional ‘visual enhancement’ commonly found in TV shows and movies to reality. Turing uses semantic super-resolution to increase the resolution of satellite images, making it look like atmosphere-based aerial photography. This technology is being used on Bing Maps worldwide, fulfilling more than 50% of user requests.
Microsoft has cooperation with Airbus for Azure Space to expand ‘Microsoft’s mission to make Azure Space the platform and ecosystem of choice for the space community.’ Airbus elevation data and imagery are now available in Azure Maps. If you’re an Azure Maps customer, you can now access a new global reference layer that includes high-quality Airbus imagery and a uniform elevation dataset that covers the entire globe.
|With the Microsoft Research Team Turing process, satellite images can be enhanced to show much finer details. Credit: Microsoft|
Azure Orbital uses virtualization to move connectivity from expensive, inflexible wireless hardware to an ecosystem of software that can be deployed on general-purpose hardware. This makes connectivity more scalable and cost-effective. Cost is not the only barrier facing the space community. There is also a problem with the lack of standardization. Microsoft Azure is working with the Digital IF Interoperability (DIFI) consortium, of which Microsoft is a founding member, to create standards for the space ecosystem, including IEEE-ISTO Std 4900-2021 new: Digital IF interoperability standard for data transfer between digitizers and virtualized modems.
Azure Orbital promises to enable users to manage satellite data at cloud scale, addressing the growing need for low-latency, high-capacity terrestrial infrastructure without forcing users to invest in expensive terrestrial networks. “Microsoft is announcing the next major milestone for Azure Orbital, enabling satellite operators to eliminate the engineering, scheduling, and cost challenges of building a ground station network,” said Microsoft. dedicated. ‘The scale and reach of global ground stations through Azure Orbital and our network of partners make satellite providers more accessible at a lower cost, enabling reliability and availability. resiliency around the world’, ensuring support for any mission profile. ‘
The Azure Orbital preview includes support for Microsoft and KSATlite ground stations. Starting this month, customers can use Azure Orbital API or Azure Portal to communicate with satellites using Microsoft antennas and KSAT. KSAT CEO Rolf Saktteboe said, ‘Over the past year, we’ve worked hard at KSAT to continue our partnership with Azure Orbital integrating our worldwide satellite terrestrial network with Microsoft. to provide seamless, global support for spatially based transport, processing, and storage. Being able to deliver satellite data and run resource-intensive computing such as machine learning and other applications with cloud-based solutions will not only change the way we deliver our services. but also how our customers may use this information in the future . Through this partnership, our goal is to continue to provide our customers with the most advanced technical solutions to their mission. ‘
Microsoft also announced that it has added ST Engineering iDirect, a trusted and widely used satellite platform, to Azure Orbital’s list of terrestrial segment partners. Microsoft writes, ‘iDirect and Microsoft are transforming satellite earth stations into a fully virtualized digital platform that enables Satellite operators to achieve economies of scale and software efficiency of their own. operate on a cloud scale.’
In addition to working with Airbus and iDirect, Microsoft also announced a new partnership with Esri (the market leader in geographic information systems software, location intelligence, and mapping), Blackshark. ai (geospatial intelligence and 3D synthetic environment) and Orbital Insight (the company’s geospatial analysis software).