Satellite-based Earth Observation (EO) is a process of using remote-sensing technique to gather information on the chemical, physical and biological aspects of the earth system. This technique allows the measurement of geophysical parameters of the earth from the orbit with the use of cameras and sensors. The gathered information can be effectively used to monitor and predict cloud cover and climate patterns, detect and assess damage during floods, tsunamis, and other natural disasters, agricultural and usage, petroleum and mineral deposits, availability of water sources. It also facilitates the management of earth’s natural resources in a resourceful manner. The satellite-based earth observation industry is witnessing an impressive growth, with around 260 satellite launches expected over the next decade.
One of the main drivers in this market is the technological improvements in satellite imagery. Advanced image-enhancing equipments such as high-resolution cameras, and advanced remote-sensing technology have improved the quality of satellite-based earth observation images. This data is shared from various satellites and accordingly used by defense, science, research and development organizations, and private users. The U.S. based earth observation satellite operators GeoEye and DigitalGlobe, along with Europe-based SPOT Image share more than 60 % of the total revenues from commercial data sales.
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The challenge for the imagery market is the initial high investment cost. Moreover, other challenges arising due to the incoordination among different databases still persist due to the isolation of various satellites from one another. All these challenges are expected to be resolved by the much anticipated technology together developed by the new upcoming formation ‘Group on Earth Observation System of Systems’ (GEOSS). This is a system of systems that will link the existing and the upcoming observing systems around the globe and fill in the loop holes of uncommon technical standards seen in the development of new observing systems.
It will offer a single internet access point to all the users seeking EO data from existing data bases as well as the new up-to-date portals, thus, making the information and analysis to flow directly to the users across various domains. Demand for EO data is increasing from users such as surveyors, farmers, miners, fishers, engineers, and others decision makers, to pursue their business objectives. This technology is also expected to fuel growth for earth observations market in other areas such as land management, natural disaster response, insurance, real estate and tourism industry. Increased demand for EO data from public entities and private companies such as Google, Inc. for its use in mapping and location based services is further expected to stimulate the earth observations market growth.
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Demand for satellite-based earth observation market will be high from developing countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Kazakhstan and South Africa who would be widening their native autonomous capabilities in the near future. United States, Europe, China and India are all important operators of remote sensing satellites. Leading operators and service providers in these regions are partnering with Geographic Information System (GIS) companies and manufacturers of mobile devices to provide individual consumers with advanced information products and services. Initiatives taken by the government to embrace EO, in addition to the collaboration among operators to expand their capabilities by means of technology transfer would be the major driving factors in the satellite-based earth observation market.
With booming demand anticipated equally for complex and economical EO missions, the manufacturing and launch industries are likely to profit from the significant returns. Major trend is seen in increasing use of satellite-based earth observations in Maritime surveillance, for its ability to rapidly evaluate situations during extreme weather conditions and in war-time crisis. The key vendors include: Dettwiler & Associates Ltd., Deimos Imaging S.l., Skybox Imaging Inc., ImageSat International, PlanetIQ and Rapid Eye A.G.
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