Aug 07, 2014

UrtheCast grabs share of $1.5B 'EO ' industry

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The beautiful blue gem known as planet Earth will look even better thanks to high-tech cameras developed here in Canada. The cameras – mounted on the International Space Station – can shoot high-resolution pictures and capture Ultra HD colour video of Earth from outer space. And the devices are not only about pretty pictures: The imagery collected is also a valuable commodity.

Earth Observation, or EO, is a $1.5-billion industry and Vancouver-based technology company UrtheCast is set to grab its share. It makes the camera sensors and associated electronics and hardware used for space-based EO. Another company is responsible for getting the gear to the International Space Station, including the still image and video cameras.

UrtheCast also holds international rights to the imagery, and the company sells that data to interested people or companies. It will also process the imagery before making live streams available on the web.

The company’s newest equipment will enhance the powerful imaging capabilities of cameras already aboard the International Space Station, said UrtheCast CEO Scott Larson, and it will “improve upon the quality and quantity of data that we can offer our customers – for everything ranging from scientific research to resource monitoring.”

Environment experts, organizations involved in humanitarian relief and other large social events, even farmers and agricultural specialists, can make use of UrtheCast’s services.

Larson said the cameras are Ultra HD. UrtheCast is ‘booting up’ the imaging devices on board the space station; a medium-resolution camera (dubbed Theia) and a high-resolution camera (Iris).

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