Satellite observation will play a crucial role.

On 1 April 1960, TIROS-1 spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral. Widely considered to be the world’s first Earth observation satellite, TIROS-1 vastly improved our ability to forecast the weather. Fast forward six decades and these satellites have transformed our world and opened up untold opportunities, not just for scientific research but for society as a whole.

Inspired by this tradition, we believe satellite observation has a crucial role to play in combatting the food and water crisis, now and in future.


In addition to optical and radar observations from the ESA Copernicus Sentinel Constellation, we make specific use of satellites that register the microwave signals that radiate naturally from the Earth’s surface, a process known as passive microwave sensing. The radiometers on board these satellites, most of which orbit at an altitude of approx. 700 km, capture emissions in the microwave domain. Our advanced algorithms then convert these observations into processable data on soil moisture, temperature and vegetation (VOD and biomass).

We give our customers essential insights into soil conditions by applying our mathematical expertise to raw data from a constellation of the following NASA, ESA and JAXA satellites.


SMAP: The Soil Moisture Active Passive mission is a dedicated soil moisture mission based on L-band (1.4 GHz) microwave observations. The satellite was launched in 2015 and orbits at an altitude of 685 km.

GMI: The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Microwave Imager (GMI) is a multi-channel, conical-scanning microwave radiometer. It forms part of GPM, an international network of satellites that provide observations on rain and snow.

AMSR-E: A multifrequency, dual-polarised microwave radiometer that detected faint microwave emissions from the Earth’s surface and atmosphere. A NASA-JAXA collaboration, the radiometer was on board NASA’s Aqua mission and operated from May 2002 until October 2011.

SMMR: The Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer on board the Nimbus-7 satellite was the first passive microwave system in orbit to provide global coverage. It was operational from October 1978 until August 1987.


SMOS: The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission was the first soil moisture mission dedicated to making global observations of soil moisture over land and salinity over oceans. It uses 1.4 GHz passive microwave observations and has been in orbit since 2009.


AMSR2: The Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) is onboard the “Global Change Observation Mission-Water” (GCOM-W1) satellite. This multichannel microwave radiometer and has been operational since July 2012.

Most of the passive microwave systems we use fly sun-synchronous orbits and therefore have a regular overpass time. These are around 01.30 solar time, or 06.00 solar time for the descending orbit and 12 hours later for the ascending. The data acquired can be regarded as a snapshot of the soil conditions at that moment, so the measurements we provide are representative of soil conditions at the time of overpass.