They say there is no such thing as a free lunch but this was dinner. Does that count? I was at the boutique Hotel du Vin in Newcastle for a problem framing dinner as a guest of the North East Satellite Applications centre, or the catapult as it is otherwise known.
A group of us had got together to talk about the problems we could solve using satellites and the data they generate. We talked about the usual stuff which centred mostly around data, social good and commercialisation but for me the real opportunity must come from an understanding of what satellites could give us that other forms of data capture could not.
This is something that I’m not sure many of us had.
Satellites are different, that much is obvious. They are not terrestrial bound. Forget your drones or even aircraft, having something in space can bring a whole new perspective to our earthly problems. They can see things that cannot be seen in any other way. I’m not just talking about the visual spectrum though. What could we find out by looking at the world in the infra-red, ultra violet, microwave or radio spectrums? Could we learn something new by using spectroscopy to smell the world?
I have long been interested in how trapped we are by the view we have of where we live. We believe maps to be true yet they are just representations that we have become used to. There are many other views out there waiting to be read.
Thinking about it then leads me to the conclusion that satellites offer the scope to address wide area problems, things that you need scale to see, such as algal blooms and geomatics (a new word I learnt). There must be something of interest in energy sustainability, agribusiness or environmental management.
Last night was just a start. The conversation flowed and at times was all over the place yet this is the way that new ideas are formed. Satellites are certainly cool and fun to think about.
The dinner was nice by the way. I had the fish soup, duck and an almond and pear tart. Not all at the same time mind.