July 24, 2024


Finnish startup Kuva Space has unveiled plans to provide the US government with hyperspectral data.

A powerful technology with diverse applications, hyperspectral imagery analyses a wider light spectrum than traditional sensors. As a result, it can unravel new insights about scanned objects.

Here on Earth, the techniques have discovered artworks hidden under Picasso paintings and enhanced colours in smartphone photos. Up in space, the possibilities are almost endless. 

With views across our planet, the sensors can read the spectral signatures of almost any material on Earth.

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At Kuva Space, the analysis begins by launching satellites equipped with hyperspectral cameras into orbit. From their perch in the cosmos, the sensors then analyse the chemical compositions of natural and manmade materials.

Once the objects are identified, the system assesses their conditions and any changes to them.

It can also be tuned in orbit for specific use cases.  The agricultural sector, for instance, can optimise the sensors to monitor crops. Defence ministries can tap the data for surveillance. Industrial sites can deploy the imagery to detect chemical leaks. In marine ecosystems, the tech can track aquatic species, water quality, and illegal fishing vessels.

Kuva Space aims to bring these applications into the mainstream.

“Our goal is to make our services more accessible to a wide range of industries and countries to combat climate change impacts more effectively,” Jarkko Antila, the CEO of Kuva Space, told TNW.

Opening access to space

Hyperspectral cameras and their supporting hardware are typically heavy payloads. To send them into space, they’re normally implemented on large satellites.

At Kuva Space, the hyperspectral satellites are slimmed down to under 30kg. The company also boasts the first-ever hyperspectral payload on a nanosatellite.

Named HelloWorld, the system was launched in 2018. Despite its diminutive size, Kuva Space said the payload’s hyperspectral data is as accurate as large scientific instruments. 

Graphic showing the Kuva Space constellation