NASA to Purchase Earth Science Data from Small Sat Companies

According to a Space News article, NASA is ready to move ahead with plans to purchase Earth science data from commercial small sat companies. NASA’s FY 2017 budget request included $30 million for a new program called the Small Satellite Constellations Initiative, designed to cover a range of efforts to support the development and use of small satellites in Earth science, including potential purchase of data from commercial small sat constellations. Other federal organizations are also starting pilot programs for purchasing commercial data from small satellite operators. For example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded two contracts for GPS radio occultation data, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency awarded a contract to Planet in September for commercial imagery.

SpaceNet Challenge Results Revealed

DigitalGlobe announced the results of the first SpaceNet Challenge. Launched in November, 42 developers competed in an open challenge hosted by TopCoder to create algorithms that extract building footprints from satellite imagery. The participants submitted 242 solutions over a three-week period to compete for a total prize pool of $35,000 that was distributed among the top five performing contestants. SpaceNet is a collaboration by DigitalGlobe, CosmiQ Works, and NVIDIA, and consists of an online repository of freely available satellite imagery, co-registered map layers to train algorithms, and public challenges that accelerate innovation in machine learning. The winning algorithms from the first challenge will be made available to the open-source community through the SpaceNet GitHub repository and also to users of DigitalGlobe’s Geospatial Big Data platform. The next phase of the SpaceNet Challenge will be a follow-on competition using DigitalGlobe’s highest-resolution 30-centimeter imagery from WorldView-3 and will extract building footprints from new locations across the globe. More details are expected to be released soon.

Obama Administration Eases Federal Travel Restrictions for Conference Attendance

As he prepares to leave office, President Obama’s administration made a significant reduction in rules governing attendance at conferences and events, reports Exhibit City News. An Office of Management and Budget memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies says the restrictions implemented in 2012 saved the government and taxpayers $30 million, a reduction of about 25 percent, but also caused a decrease in government attendance at conferences throughout the country. Although the regulations have been eased, government agencies will be held to new accountability standards, such as including a dedicated space on their websites to publish information about conference attendance when the overall cost to the agency exceeds $100,000. The new rules also allow agency heads to pre-approve attendance at recurring events which will help personnel take advantage of early registration and advance travel arrangements. Read the memo to learn more.

exactEarth Launches Vessel Tracking Constellation

exactEarth announced the launch of four hosted payloads for its next generation constellation, exactView RT, powered by Harris. The payloads were launched last week aboard an Iridium NEXT satellite on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. exactView RT will offer a continuous, global real-time ship tracking capability, providing an unprecedented view of the world’s maritime domain to exactEarth customers.The exactView RT system is the result of an agreement signed with Harris in 2015 under which Harris deploys and operates the hosted payloads and exactEarth performs the ground-based data processing and has exclusive distribution rights to the data for all markets except the U.S. government.

Airbus Sells Share in Atlas Elektronik Group

Airbus Defence and Space entered into an agreement to sell its 49 percent share in Atlas Elektronik Group to thyssenkrupp AG, based in Germany. With this acquisition, thyssenkrupp—which already had a 51 percent share in the company—will become the sole owner of Atlas Elektronik.

Peer Intel

Dewberry hired Cathy Barnette as a senior environmental scientist at the firm’s Daphne, Ala., office. Barnette has worked for the last 20 years to promote environmental awareness and stewardship throughout coastal Alabama.

Photo Credit: NASA

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