America’s First Commercial SAR

When I started Capella Space in 2016, there were a number of European providers operating and building commercial SAR, but the United States had no horse in the commercial SAR race. Capella decided to change that dynamic, and challenge the international competition by bringing a fully American designed, built, and operated capability to market. Today we accomplished that goal and we can proudly say we are the first American SAR operator. 

Following the launch of our Sequoia satellite, I am excited to publicly showcase a few images from Sequoia that have been collected over the last few weeks during satellite calibration. Below you will see three of my favorite images in our Strip mode at 2 meter resolution along with some descriptions of what can be seen in these images: Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, Santa Ana Volcanoes in El Salvador, and Sundarban National Park in India.

The image above is of Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. Even though this is our 2 meter Strip imagery individual balconies of the tall buildings on either side of the Nakheel Mall are visible, as well as boats moored at the docks behind the buildings. The incredible dynamic range and low noise in this picture allows you to see wakes left behind by boats as well as waves on the ocean surface. The direction of the waves changes as they refract around the island. Dark regions on the water surface indicate smooth areas of water that are most likely caused by either biological or man-made surfactants that dampen the small-scale surface roughness. The details on this image are incredibly powerful and can be used for a variety of applications across commercial and government applications.

The image above is a Strip image of Santa Ana Volcano. The geometrical patterns of the terraced gardens of Lomas de San Marcelino can be seen beneath the backdrop of the towering Volcan de Santa Ana O Ilamatepec. The volcano appears to bend towards the sensor, exhibiting a layover commonly seen in SAR images’ over-exaggerated relief. The crater exhibits a large radar shadow that blends in with any potential water located within it, and the desirable characteristics of SAR for terrain mapping are on display as we can observe the fluvial patterns striped across the faces of the peaks. The Izalco volcano can also be seen in the bottom left corner, nesting the meadows within the town of San Blas directly between the two powerful mountains and surrounding tropical rainforest.

The image above is a Strip image of Sundarban National Park in India. The Mangrove forest of the Sundarbans (right hand side of the river) is starkly contrasted with the harvested land on the left hand side of the river. The remains of the original Mangrove forest can be seen along the banks of the river at the ends of the strips of plowed fields. A number of boats are visible along the river. The clarity of the river highlights the great radiometric quality and low Noise-Equivalent Sigma Zero (NESZ) of Capella imagery, where almost zero speckle interferes with the delineation of water boundaries and smaller stream branching from the meandering rivers. Tree counts, deforestation, and biomass are simply three of the key applications that can be derived from this image in a region notorious for the cloudiness and monsoons that prevent optical imaging.  

We’re glad to share this historic moment both for Capella, as well as for the American Earth Observation industry by being its first commercial SAR provider. Over the coming weeks and months, we will continue sharing images that showcase some of the higher resolution imagery including our 50 cm resolution Spot, more advanced capabilities, and the unique advantages of our systems. These advantages will include exceptionally large imaging capacity, the highest resolution available commercially, near real-time collection and delivery latency, and incredible ease of use of our services and customer service.   

Stay tuned and follow our blog for more exciting updates over the coming weeks and months.