Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources has secured US$21.1 million to measure the Earth’s natural resources via satellite.
The company will deploy and operate Ceres, an advanced Earth observation business that features the first commercial infrared and hyperspectral sensor platform to better understand and manage humanity’s natural resources.
Earth observation will be another aspect of Planetary Resources’ operations in addition to prospecting and mining asteroids.
Conceived from the company’s vision for the exploration and utilization of asteroid resources, Ceres will leverage Planetary Resources’ Arkyd spacecraft to deliver affordable, on-demand Earth intelligence of our natural resources on any spot on the planet.
While typical satellite imagery provides only a picture, Ceres will provide actionable data with higher spectral resolutions – going beyond what the human eye can see – by measuring thermographic properties and detecting the composition of materials on Earth’s surface.
The midwave-infrared sensor is the first ever commercial capability from space to offer thermographic mapping and night-imaging, and the hyperspectral sensor includes an unprecedented 40 color bands in the visible to near-infrared spectrum.
“As we continue toward our vision of the expansion of humanity and our economy into the Solar System, our team has been working on the critical technologies required to detect and identify the most commercially viable near-Earth asteroids and their resources,” President and CEO of Planetary Resources Chris Lewicki said.
“To characterize these resources, it required more than just a picture, and our team has developed advanced spectral sensors to serve this need. We have also created new technologies for onboard computing, low-cost space platforms, and are now applying these transformative technologies in additional markets.”
The imaging technology is integrated onto the Arkyd spacecraft and deployed as a constellation of 10 satellites in low-Earth orbit. The constellation will provide global monitoring capability to benefit multiple industries including agriculture, oil and gas, water quality, financial intelligence and forestry.
Founder and CEO of Orbital Insight James Crawford said when the constellation is complete, it will “transform the ability to monitor, model and manage global commodities and provide visibility across all major industrial supply chains”.