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Satellite Data Acquisition in the Blink of an Eye

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BLINK (Satellite Data Acquisition in the Blink of an Eye)

Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2021-08-31

It is widely known that key information used in many industries such as meteorology, logistics, navigation, oil and gas, agriculture, ecology, and others, comes from space, via Earth observation (EO) satellites. Having this data in a short time frame is essential. Existing ground segment solutions are heavily based on hardware, and they are clearly unable to follow growing demands from the space segment. This creates a data acquisition bottleneck in the face of exponential increase of the amount of data to be transmitted to the ground.

The objective of this project is to provide an innovative, completely software-based data acquisition solution for the EO market: Blink, which is disruptive enough to compete with the existing oligopoly in this market segment. The EO market is very interesting as it is being boosted by a skyrocketing growth of NewSpace start-ups such as SpaceX, OneWeb and Planet, to name just a few. Moving from conventional hardware solutions towards flexible and dynamic software solutions, as well as moving satellite ground systems and services into the cloud environment is an extremely promising recent trend.

The expected project outcome is a Blink digitizer and a pure-software receiver for EO ground stations which will enable assembling a fully performant ground station at a fraction of currently typical time and cost. This will benefit not just the growing segment of start-up companies, but also big governmental missions worldwide, including programmes such as the EU's flagship programme Copernicus. Humanitarian missions will also benefit from Blink. Higher ground station capacity and affordability will significantly reduce time to get satellite images of disaster-struck areas. Rescue teams will be able to act faster, and save lives, property, and the environment.

The successful completion of the project and the support of the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument help ensure the company’s fast expansion of disruptive innovation in the Earth Observation market in Europe and worldwide.
Main Blink components (hardware and software) have been well defined, and their flexible, multi-mission and user-friendly design has been verified.

Licensing support has been integrated providing various licensing options, both traditional and flexible. A strong foundation for various installation types, platforms and ground segment environments has been established, supporting the need of governmental, civil and academic market segments.

Initial versions of the digitizer have been produced and tests have confirmed outstanding quality.

In parallel, the pure-software receiver has grown to support a number of key capabilities, achieve unparalleled performance, smooth integration into larger ground systems and controlled deployment to target environments.
Over the last two decades and up until recently, Satellite to ground communications in the Earth Observation domain have been making incremental improvements, with no significant, paradigmatic shifts. They are still expensive and difficult to build, deploy, maintain, and extend. In addition, as-a-service business models are somewhat hampered by conventional architectures.

Blink is breaking new ground in pure-software signal processing, having already reached processing speeds beyond requirements of most missions and rapidly improving to meet the needs of the most demanding missions.

Ground systems do not have to be rigid. Deploying Blink at ground stations will make it possible to quickly customise, adapt and evolve satellite data reception. For rapid innovation in Earth Observation, both the Ground Segment and the Space Segment have to play their parts: high performance software reception represents the first significant step forward in a long time.

Blink's platform and architecture make it possible to deploy solutions at extremely competitive prices, opening doors to operators which previously struggled to set up working ground systems. This lowers the barriers to getting Earth Observation satellite data to the ground, data essential for agriculture, climate change monitoring, land and forest management, ecosystem observation, air pollution, cargo transportation, disaster relief and business. There are hardly more important issues for contemporary society to address.
Blink Processing Report Summary
Example of the Blink Processing Output