Colorado Springs, Colo – Excitement recently prevailed at the Catalyst Campus and at SaraniaSat, a participant in the Catalyst Accelerator’s very first cohort, with the announcement that SaraniaSat has been awarded a contract by NASA for their Hyperspectral Thermal Imager (HyTI) proposal.
Of the six companies that participated in the Catalyst Accelerator’s inaugural cohort, SaraniaSat is the first to win a much-coveted government contract.
SaraniaSat’s proposal, which can be examined in greater depth on NASA’s website here, was submitted in response to the In-Space Validation of Earth Science Technologies (InVEST) Program 2017 ROSES (Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences) A.49 Solicitation NNH17ZDA001N. According to NASA’s website, 25 proposals were received and only three contracts were awarded, so Dr. George and SaraniaSat have good reason to be proud, especially given the total contract value, an impressive $5.1 million across three years.
NASA’s Science Mission Directorate selected the final proposals for the InVEST Program in support of the Earth Science Division (ESD). The proposals addressed problems stemming from the way the harsh space environment forces components and systems to operate under extreme conditions, meaning they cannot be fully tested while in Earth’s immediate environment. Instead, new technologies need to be validated in space prior to use in a science mission. The InVEST program is meant to fill that need. SaraniaSat’s novel HyTI technologies that will be space validated for the first time via LEO flight are:
- Hyperspectral Imager
- TIR Imager Focal Plane
- High-Performance Onboard Computing 1
SaraniaSat performs hyperspectral remote sensing, collecting imagery of the land surface using drones, aircraft and satellites. This information is then analyzed according to the needs of the clients, such as the agricultural industry, which looks for early detection of drought, lack of nutrients, fungal and insect infestations, changes in soil conditions and other actionable information needed to maintain the health and well-being of vast acres of crops. These early warning signs are buried in a mass of hyperspectral imagery data continuously created in the process of monitoring large land surfaces. Handling this kind of Big Data is a challenge for satellites, which rely on radio waves of limited bandwidth to transmit data to earth. SaraniaSat’s unique solution – which is both a hardware and a software solution – includes processing all this data onboard the satellite using a supercomputer and transmitting the highest-priority, actionable output to Earth first, thus making hyperspectral remote sensing truly feasible for many verticals, including the military, who can use it to track both assets and enemy activities from space.
A former NASA scientist, Dr. George is the ideal individual to lead the development of such a disruptive technology. As CEO of SaraniaSat, he has worked ardently to pitch the advanced remote sensing technology that is so unusual, SaraniaSat was written up in VentureBeat as a ‘Unicorn’ with a unique solution. Located in Los Angeles, California, SaraniaSat was originally founded to address a Grand Challenge facing the agricultural industry, the need to break through the current ‘logjam’ blocking the widespread acceptance of satellite remote-sensing data and information products.
When asked how participating in the Catalyst Accelerator helped with writing the proposal, Dr. George could not say enough: “Catalyst was literally a catalyst, because without them we would never have been able to submit this proposal.
“You know how they say, ‘It takes a village?’ It definitely took a village to get this proposal right. There are so many I’s to dot and T’s to cross; any mistakes and the government rejects it outright. We could handle writing the technical part of the proposal, but there was so much else! Catalyst Accelerator offered us many great resources: PTAC [Procurement Technical Assistance Center] generated the very valuable compliance matrix, and SBDC-Boulder [Small Business Development Center, Boulder, Colorado] helped us in several ways, including funding for professional assistance in producing the financial budget documents.
“Even at the last minute, trying to convert from Word to PDF pushed all the proposal tables and illustrations out of place, so Becca [Accelerator Director Dr. Rebecca Decker] sent it to the Catalyst Campus’ executive assistant, who straightened it all out like it was nothing. We could not have done it without the full support of everyone!”
Congratulations go out to Dr. George and SaraniaSat for their exceptional work in winning this contract award!
The Catalyst Accelerator is a defense and national security industry accelerator, headquartered on the Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The accelerator’s mission is to promote technology advancement for the warfighter and guide technology transfer from the government to the commercial market and vice versa. Its inaugural cohort, of which SaraniaSat was a member, pursued solutions to Terrestrial Weather problems from January to April of 2018. The next cohort, who will be working on Positioning, Navigation and Timing, GPS alternative technologies, is slated to arrive on campus in September 2018.