September 17, 2021

Microsoft and Thales collaborate on satellite image processing automation

2 min read

Microsoft revealed plans on April 6 to integrate Thales Alenia Space’s automated satellite image processing technologies into its Azure Orbital network. As per a news release from Thales Alenia, “images downlinked by the Earth observation satellites can easily be automatically and routinely processed as soon as they are generated” with the DeeperVision program.

Microsoft has been enabling datacenters with the ground stations to support customers retrieve knowledge from remote sensing, Earth observation, and communications satellites since launching Azure Orbital last year to link satellites to its cloud infrastructure. On September 22, Microsoft announced Azure Orbital, a program that allows consumers to transfer data from the satellites directly into the Azure cloud for processing as well as storage.  During the Microsoft Ignite 2020 conference, Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella stated, “With Azure Orbital, we’re bringing our infrastructure to space, allowing everyone to connect satellite data as well as capabilities from Azure.”

The announcement was the latest phase in Microsoft and Amazon’s fight to tie satellite communications networks to cloud technology. In June, Amazon Web Services confirmed Aerospace and Satellite Solutions’ establishment, a new business unit that would provide cloud services to assist space and launch operations.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is extending its Azure Orbital affiliate network to include KSAT’s network of more than 200 satellite antennas. Customers’ data are also being sent to Microsoft’s Azure network of the fibre-linked data centres via SES, Intelsat, Inmarsat, and Viasat. “Microsoft is pursuing a very partner-centric strategy, partnering with space firms to put a commodity to market with them,” Katherine Monson, who serves as the KSAT USA’s head, informed SpaceNews. Microsoft is now collaborating with Amergint Technologies, Kubos, Kratos, and U.S. Electrodynamics Inc., a teleport provider.

In an April 6 blog post, Tom Keane, who serves as the Microsoft Azure Global corporate vice president, stated, “We continue to develop ground stations in other places and integrate with collaborator ground stations to further our customers’ capacity to connect with their satellites for the data ingestion.”

Microsoft is collaborating with Thales Alenia and other clients and collaborators to develop signal processing, image processing, as well as geospatial data analytics. Customers will now integrate all of Thales Alenia Space’s DeeperVision features for processing dataflows and producing timely knowledge with Azure Orbital’s cloud capability, according to Clarence Duflocq. He serves as the Thales Alenia vice president in charge of strategy and innovation. “High-speed, high-volume artificial intelligence, as well as machine learning, enrich this data, resulting in an unparalleled effect on and beyond the planet!”

Thales Alenia Space is a telecommunication, navigation, Earth monitoring, environmental maintenance, discovery, research, and orbital infrastructure joint partnership between Thales and Leonardo, with a majority partner Thales and a minority partner Leonardo. Customers will use Azure Orbital to transfer data from satellites directly into the Azure cloud for processing as well as storage.

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