A new micro-satellite platform will use improved thermal imaging to monitor water availability around the globe
Spotted: Global agriculture faces a series of complex challenges if it is to feed the planet’s growing population. One certainty, however, is that more water will be needed to produce this extra food. At the same time, climate change and land degradation are also putting more pressure on water resources. Satellite startup, Constellr, is now working to improve the way that water is used in agriculture.
Constellr’s satellites allow detection of early water stress through thermal imaging. This data, according to the company, can contribute to enhanced yield, reduced operating costs, and optimised resource and supply chain management. The company’s first thermal infrared monitoring payload (LisR) launched in February to the International Space Station (ISS). This will be followed by the launch of the first phase of a micro-satellite constellation, beginning in 2023.
The instruments will take measurements beyond the infrared wavelengths to accurately calculate surface temperature and measure water distribution and composition. It will then be possible for Constellr to derive Land Surface Temperatures (LSTs), a key environmental variable at the heart of water, carbon, and energy cycles. Precise LSTs will also make it possible to derive calculations, such as the rate of evapotranspiration and water availability, much more reliably than is currently possible.
The widespread applications for Constellr’s technology are clear and Dr. Lina Hollender, Constellr’s Chief Commercial Officer states: “Since the launch of LisR, we have seen a significant market pull, with international prospects approaching us to test our data across a range of commercial agricultural applications.”
Written By: Lisa Magloff