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By processing data in space, AWS goes where no cloud provider has gone before

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Amazon Web Services Inc. has gone where no cloud provider has gone before: space. AWS providing details at its re:Invent conference today that it has successfully tested a suite of AWS computer and machine learning software on an orbiting satellite.

The first-of-its-kind space experiment was conducted over the past 10 months and involved the use of a low Earth orbit satellite to test a fast, more efficient method for AWS customers to collect and analyze spatial data directly on their orbiting satellites using the cloud.

The experiment is said to have shown how AWS edge capabilities can be used by customers to analyze massive volumes of raw satellite data. Notably, processing the data in space means that customers only have to download the most useful images for storage and further analysis after AWS has processed the raw data.

“Using AWS software to perform real-time data analysis onboard an orbiting satellite and delivering that analysis directly to decision makers via the cloud, is a definite shift in existing approaches to space data management,” Max Peterson, AWS vice president for worldwide public sector, said in a blog post. “It also helps push the boundaries of what we believe is possible for satellite operations.”

Peterson added that being able to provide secure cloud capability in space gives satellite operators the ability to communicate more efficiently. Satellite operators can communicate with their spacecraft and deliver updated commands using the AWS tools they’re familiar with.

The test is part of a new frontier for AWS, which is committed to eliminating technical challenges associated with operating in space, including high latency and limited-bandwidth networks.

The test was run in conjunction with D-Orbit sPA and Inbap. D-Orbit is a company focused on space logistics and transportation and is a member of the AWS Partner Network. Using AWS compute and ML services, D-Orbit is said to have rapidly analyzed large quantities of space data directly on its orbiting ION satellite.

“Our customers want to securely process increasingly large amounts of satellite data with very low latency,” Sergio Mucciarelli, vice president of commercial sales of D-Orbit, explained. “We believe in the drive toward edge computing, and that it can only be done with space-based infrastructure that is fit for purpose, giving customers a high degree of confidence that they can run their workloads and operations reliably in the harsh space operating environment.”

In related AWS space news, geospatial intelligence services provider Descartes Labs Inc. was announced as the latest big enterprise to join AWS early today at re:Invent. As part of the deal, Descartes will migrate its core information technology infrastructure, including its analytics and geoprocessing platforms, to Amazon’s servers.

Image: AWS

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