LAS VEGAS: Parabolic antennas, which are used for sending and receiving radio signals, talk to one satellite at a time. There aren’t enough parabolic antennas to service the existing 2,000 orbiting satellites.
The problem is only going to get worse with 16,000 satellites expected to be launched over the next ten years. Ground stations become the core for communication between the ground and satellite using antennas to send radio signals to command the satellite. Building ground stations is an expensive proposition and leasing it from ground station providers and building antennas is a process that takes precious time off core research.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing division of Amazon, is finding a solution to this problem, following interactions with those like SkyWatch, which provides digital infrastructure for the distribution of Earth observation data, and Mapbox, which processes tonnes of telemetry data every day to power its mapping services. AWS has launched ground station-as a-service, a cloud service for satellite data that acts as an enabler to downlink and process satellite data without having to build or manage ground station infrastructure.
“It gives customers on demand access to these ground centres with no big upfront cost. You figure out the ground station and identify the satellite you want to interact with in the chosen ground station. Each ground station has multiple antennas,” said AWS CEO Andy Jassy at the company’s flagship event AWS Re:Invent in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
AWS has launched two ground stations, and it will have another 12 operational by mid-2019, and each ground station is linked to an AWS Region. The AWS cloud spans 57 zones within 19 geographic regions. With AWS Ground Station’s global network of antennas, customers can schedule a satellite on demand and interact with the chosen ground station.
AWS and Lockheed Martin have also entered into a tie up to integrate the ground station service with Lockheed Martin’s new Verge antenna network. AWS said customers using AWS ground stations can download data from multiple satellites, while Lockheed Martin Verge customers benefit from being able to upload satellite commands and data through AWS ground stations. As many AWS ground station antennas are co-located with AWS regions, both AWS and Lockheed Martin customers gain from low-latency.
“Access to geospatial information gives customers the confidence to make critical decisions. For space startups like Spire Global, AWS and Lockheed Martin are unlocking the potential of nearly continuous and uninterrupted access to satellite data along with the ability to analyse and leverage that data using the broad and deep cloud services available in AWS,” said Robert W Sproles, program manager, ground stations for Spire Global.
The development was reported by ETRetail.com