New Microsoft Azure services will help us learn more about the darkest reaches of space


As part of its effort to focus more on space, Microsoft has developed an in-orbit computing platform for spacecraft running AI (opens in a new tab) workloads can be connected to Azure hyperscale (opens in a new tab) cloud.

In the first of a series of space-focused partnerships, the software giant is working with Thales Alenia Space to demonstrate and validate in-orbit computing technologies with a demonstration aboard the International Space Station (opens in a new tab). Together, the two companies will deploy a powerful in-orbit computer, in-orbit application framework and high-performance Earth observation sensors to create new in-orbit climate data processing applications to benefit Earth’s sustainability. .

Microsoft is also partnering with Loft Orbital to enable a new way to develop, test, and validate software applications for space systems in Microsoft Azure. These applications will then be deployed seamlessly on orbiting satellites using Loft Orbital’s space infrastructure tools and platforms.

Finally, Microsoft is working with Ball Aerospace to create a series of in-orbit testbed satellites that will be used to implement new software and hardware for the US government. The two companies will collaborate in the execution of these space missions to demonstrate in-orbit reconfigurable processing technologies leveraging the Azure cloud.

Combining AI and satellite imagery

Satellite imagery is already a valuable asset, but when used with geospatial AI, analysts can monitor change detection for their respective areas of interest.

This will be especially useful for industries that monitor, measure and/or monetize large areas of the Earth. However, satellite imagery consists of large unstructured data (opens in a new tab) which requires significant resources to transform and analyze in order to access and store information as well as use it as structured data.

To help you accomplish this task, the Azure Space (opens in a new tab) released a new reference architecture on how to apply AI to large-scale satellite imagery using Azure resources. As Azure offers orchestration flexibility, customers will be able to bring their own images, but they can also call another image provider API.

When it comes to geospatial intelligence and remote sensing AI, Microsoft already has partnerships with, Orbital Insight and Esri, while customers looking to develop AI can use the company’s tools, including Azure Machine Learning. (opens in a new tab) and Azure Custom Vision.

We’ll likely hear more from the Azure Space team about their latest efforts in space once their in-orbit computing projects enter the testing phase.


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