Umbra releases aerial test data

As we enter the final phase before our inaugural commercial launch, we’ve been testing our radar system regularly with aerial flights around our headquarters in Santa Barbara, California. The engineering team swears it’s not just a chance to don parachutes and fly with the door of the plane open…

We can’t just hold the actual satellite out of the side of the plane and see if it works, so we use a replica of the radar system embedded on the satellite coupled with a small antenna and amplifier that are scaled down to suit aerial tests. The goal of our test flights are to put the radar system and subassembly through its paces, but the result is beautiful, high-resolution SAR imagery:

15cm resoltion SAR imagery of Sanata Barbara overlaying aerial map.

It’s roughly ~15cm ground projected and so sharp, you can even see the backscatter from a flagstick on the green of a nearby golf course…

Zoomed in image of a flagstick at Sandpiper Golf Club.

…and the four 12oz aluminum cans we set out on reflective boards just for fun:

…and the four 12oz aluminum cans we set out on reflective boards just for fun:

SAR images are always taken at an oblique angle, unlike optical images which tend to be taken as close to “nadir” (pointing directly down) as possible.

This is the first data that we’re releasing publicly and is licensed the same way all the rest of our data will be: openly. We are using the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) to grant commercial reuse rights to the data. In fact, even data that our customers purchase from us will be licensed under CC BY 4.0.

In the months to come, we will be releasing more sample data, documentation, and resources to help you get more familiar with our data and business model. We’ll also be launching a new website, along with a Help Center containing technical, licensing, and pricing information to answer the most common questions our partners and customers ask us.

But most importantly, we are launching a satellite. Umbra’s inaugural commercial satellite will leave Earth aboard a Falcon 9 departing from Cape Canaveral during the SpaceX Transporter-2 dedicated rideshare mission. Stay tuned for updates!