A ‘MISSION CONTROL’ FOR PLANET EARTH

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The  advent  of  earth observation (EO) spacecraft  systems  such  as  Sentinel  2  and  Planet’s Dove constellation  allows  us  to  -  in  theory  -  understand  the  changing nature  of  the  Earth  as  never  before.  However  the  bottleneck  remains the  ability  to  quickly  make  sense  of  this  new  data  availability,  both  in terms  of  refresh  rates  and  heterogeneity,  particularly  when  paired with  ground  data  (such  as  mobile  phone,  drone  and  social  media). 

How  can  these  awesome  new  capabilities  come  together  to  provide  a useful  way  of  observing  our  entire  planet  dynamically?  And how can Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools and techniques give us the ability to understand, absorb and apply that information in a more timely way? 

One  notion  is the  concept  of  a  ‘Mission  Control’  for  Planet  Earth (MC4PE),  where  AI  workflows  automate  the  task  of  large  scale  data  fusion  and change  detection.

The first tools being developed in line with this vision allow decision making with a far higher degree of insight. Today we are looking to support infrastructure planning such as water systems, schools and hospitals as well as emergency response deployment across floods, earthquakes and hurricanes. These initial application are a just the beginning of what is possible as part of the MC4PE vision. 

Over the past three years, FDL has successfully demonstrated the potential for interdisciplinary approaches and 8-week sprint methodologies. Past projects in planetary defence, space weather and lunar prospecting have delivered exemplary results and we are excited to be now exploring the possibilities in EO. 

FDL is also a community - now over 2000 strong - of world class Earth, space and data scientists along with commercial and academic partners - who are dedicated to tackling problems that matter to humankind as whole. It is not an exaggeration to say that the coming decades will push human ingenuity to its limits. 

FDL is laying down the foundations to become a key player in building a future that is better for the next generation and we invite you to come along on the ride.  

Lastly, we would like to thank the wisdom, foresight, and friendship of our FDL Europe partners, the Satellite Applications Catapult, Oxford University, Nvidia Corporation and ESA. 
 

MC4PELeonard Silverberg