Stanford researchers use geospatial imagery and machine learning technology to gain real-time insights
BlackSky Holdings, Inc. (“BlackSky”), a leading technology platform providing real-time geospatial intelligence and global monitoring that has announced a planned business combination with Osprey Technology Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: SFTW), today shared that its geospatial imagery was used in a groundbreaking intelligence study that tracks and monitors activity at the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran.
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BlackSky’s high-revisit satellite imagery enabled researchers at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) to monitor the pattern of life at the Natanz nuclear facility and gain a better understanding of activity and events at the site. BlackSky’s satellites provide high, intraday revisit capabilities, allowing CISAC’s research team to receive multiple images a day, throughout the day, rather than just one image collected at roughly the same time each day.
BlackSky satellites are also capable of capturing a sequence of up to 20 images within a matter of minutes, known as a burst collection, and then splicing them together. Instead of a single picture, burst collections are geospatially normalized and joined together to generate a moving sequence of activity. With BlackSky’s assistance, the research team was able to witness trucks emerging from the facility’s underground tunnels.
“Observations that provide real-time, activities-based insights have the potential to change the world,” said Dr. Patrick O’Neil, chief data scientist at BlackSky. “The BlackSky/CISAC research team demonstrated the power of combining rapid revisit satellite imagery, human domain expertise, and AI/ML techniques to identify and understand activity at Natanz, which was previously unknown to much of the world.”
Allison Puccioni, a renowned imagery analyst and BlackSky consultant, assembled a leading research team at Stanford University, with help from Rose Gottemoeller, an internationally recognized diplomat, former NATO Deputy Secretary, and current visiting professor at Stanford. The pair enlisted two highly skilled principal research assistants in geospatial science to develop a sophisticated and innovative situational-intelligence program to monitor the Natanz nuclear facility.
Natanz is Iran’s primary facility for advanced uranium enrichment and is an active political and military location driven by concerns about the country’s nuclear operations. The BlackSky/Stanford research team set a leading example for using high-resolution satellite imagery, AI/ML, and deep analysis to deliver first-to-know geospatial intelligence for the world’s nuclear proliferation communities.
About BlackSky Holdings, Inc.
BlackSky is a leading provider of real-time geospatial intelligence. BlackSky monitors activities and facilities worldwide by harnessing the world’s emerging sensor networks and leveraging its own satellite constellation. BlackSky processes millions of data elements daily from its constellation as well as a variety of space, IoT, and terrestrial-based sensors and data feeds. BlackSky’s on-demand constellation of satellites can image a location multiple times throughout the day. BlackSky monitors for pattern-of-life anomalies to produce alerts and enhance situational awareness. BlackSky’s monitoring service, Spectra AI, is powered by cutting-edge compute techniques including machine learning, artificial intelligence, computer vision, and natural language processing. BlackSky’s global monitoring solution is available via a simple subscription and requires no IT infrastructure or setup. On February 17, 2021, BlackSky entered into a definitive agreement for a business combination (the “Merger Agreement”) with Osprey Technology Acquisition Corp. (“Osprey”) (NYSE: SFTW) that would result in BlackSky becoming a publicly listed company. For more information visit www.blacksky.com.
Osprey is a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, that was established as a collaboration between investment firms HEPCO Capital Management, led by Jonathan and Edward Cohen, and JANA Partners, led by Barry Rosenstein and with its SPAC initiative led by JANA Partner David DiDomenico, who serves as Osprey’s CEO, President, and Director. Osprey was formed to consummate a transaction with one or more transformative companies that have developed innovative software delivery platforms. For more information visit www.osprey-technology.com.
Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This document contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws with respect to the proposed transactions between Osprey and BlackSky. These forward-looking statements generally are identified by the words “believe,” “project,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “intend,” “strategy,” “future,” “opportunity,” “plan,” “may,” “should,” “will,” “would,” “will be,” “will continue,” “will likely result,” and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this document, including but not limited to: (i) the risk that the transactions may not be completed in a timely manner or at all, which may adversely affect the price of Osprey’s securities, (ii) the risk that the transactions may not be completed by Osprey’s Business Combination deadline and the potential failure to obtain an extension of the Business Combination deadline if sought by Osprey, (iii) the failure to satisfy the conditions to the consummation of the transactions, including the adoption of the Merger Agreement by the stockholders of Osprey, the satisfaction of the minimum trust account amount following redemptions by Osprey’s public stockholders and the receipt of certain governmental and regulatory approvals, (iv) the lack of a third-party valuation in determining whether or not to pursue the proposed transactions, (v) the inability to complete the PIPE Investment, (vi) the occurrence of any event, change or other circumstance that could give rise to the termination of the Merger Agreement, (vii) the effect of the announcement or pendency of the transactions on BlackSky’s business relationships, operating results, and business generally, (viii) risks that the proposed transactions disrupt current plans and operations of BlackSky, (ix) the outcome of any legal proceedings that may be instituted against BlackSky or against the Osprey related to the Merger Agreement or the proposed transactions, (x) the ability to maintain the listing of Osprey’s securities on a national securities exchange, (xi) changes in the competitive and regulated industries in which BlackSky operates, variations in operating performance across competitors, changes in laws and regulations affecting BlackSky’s business and changes in the combined capital structure, (xii) the ability to implement business plans, forecasts, and other expectations after the completion of the proposed transactions, and identify and realize additional opportunities (xiii) the performance of our third-party service providers, including our satellite manufacturer and launch providers, (xiv) risks related to delays or cancellations from current or expected customers, (xv) the risk that redemptions by Osprey’s public stockholders may require the combined company to seek additional equity and/or debt financing to fund its business plan, and (xvi) the effects of natural disasters, terrorist attacks and the spread and/or abatement of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, on the proposed transactions or on the ability to implement business plans, forecasts, and other expectations after the completion of the proposed transactions. The foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. You should carefully consider the foregoing factors and the other risks and uncertainties described in the “Risk Factors” section of Osprey’s registration on Form S-1 (File No. 333-234180), the registration statement on Form S-4 discussed below and other documents filed by Osprey from time to time with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”). These filings identify and address other important risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events and results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and Osprey and BlackSky assume no obligation and do not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Neither Osprey nor BlackSky gives any assurance that either Osprey or BlackSky, or the combined company, will achieve its expectations.
Additional Information and Where to Find It
This document relates to the proposed transactions between Osprey and BlackSky. This document does not constitute an offer to sell or exchange, or the solicitation of an offer to buy or exchange, any securities, nor shall there be any sale of securities in any jurisdiction in which such offer, sale or exchange would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such jurisdiction. On May 13, 2021, Osprey filed a registration statement on Form S-4 with the SEC, as amended on June 25, 2021, which included a document that serves as a prospectus and proxy statement of Osprey, referred to as a proxy statement/prospectus. A proxy statement/prospectus will be sent to all Osprey stockholders. Osprey also will file other documents regarding the proposed transactions with the SEC. Before making any voting or investment decision, investors and security holders of Osprey are urged to read the registration statement, the proxy statement/prospectus and all other relevant documents filed or that will be filed with the SEC in connection with the proposed transactions as they become available because they will contain important information about the proposed transactions.
Investors and security holders will be able to obtain free copies of the registration statement, the proxy statement/prospectus and all other relevant documents filed or that will be filed with the SEC by Osprey through the website maintained by the SEC at www.sec.gov.
The documents filed by Osprey with the SEC also may be obtained free of charge at Osprey’s website at https://www.osprey-technology.com or from Osprey upon written request to 1845 Walnut Street, Suite 1111, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103.
Participants in Solicitation
Osprey and BlackSky and their directors and executive officers may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from Osprey’s stockholders in connection with the proposed transactions. Osprey’s stockholders and other interested persons may obtain, without charge, more detailed information regarding the directors and officers of Osprey in Osprey’s Annual Report on Form 10-K/A for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020, which was filed with the SEC on May 12, 2021, and in Osprey’s registration statement on Form S-4, which was filed by Osprey with the SEC in connection with the business combination on May 13, 2021. Information regarding the persons who may, under SEC rules, be deemed participants in the solicitation of proxies to Osprey’s stockholders in connection with the proposed business combination is set forth in the proxy statement/prospectus on Form S-4 for the proposed business combination, which was filed by Osprey with the SEC in connection with the business combination on May 13, 2021, as amended on June 25, 2021.
A list of the names of such directors and executive officers and information regarding their interests in the transactions will be contained in the proxy statement/prospectus when available. You may obtain free copies of these documents as described in the preceding paragraph.
This communication does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or a solicitation of any vote or approval, nor shall there be any sale of any securities in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation, or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of such other jurisdiction.
Russian lab module docks with space station after 8-day trip – Vancouver Is Awesome
MOSCOW — A newly arrived Russian science lab briefly knocked the International Space Station out of position Thursday when it accidentally fired its thrusters.
For 47 minutes, the space station lost control of its orientation when the firing occurred a few hours after docking, pushing the orbiting complex from its normal configuration. The station’s position is key for getting power from solar panels and or communications. Communications with ground controllers also blipped out twice for a few minutes.
Flight controllers regained control using thrusters on other Russian components at the station to right the ship, and it is now stable and safe, NASA said.
“We haven’t noticed any damage,” space station program manager Joel Montalbano said in a late afternoon press conference. “There was no immediate danger at anytime to the crew.”
Montalbano said the crew didn’t really feel any movement or any shaking. NASA said the station moved 45 degrees out of attitude, about one-eighth of a complete circle. The complex was never spinning, NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs said.
NASA’s human spaceflight chief Kathy Lueders called it “a pretty exciting hour.”
The incident caused NASA to postpone a repeat test flight for Boeing’s crew capsule that had been set for Friday afternoon from Florida. It will be Boeing’s second attempt to reach the 250-mile-high station before putting astronauts on board; software problems botched the first test.
Russia’s long-delayed 22-ton (20-metric-ton) lab called Nauka arrived earlier Thursday, eight days after it launched from the Russian launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
The launch of Nauka, which will provide more room for scientific experiments and space for the crew, had been repeatedly delayed because of technical problems. It was initially scheduled to go up in 2007.
In 2013, experts found contamination in its fuel system, resulting in a long and costly replacement. Other Nauka systems also underwent modernization or repairs.
Stretching 43 feet (13 meters) long, Nauka became the first new compartment for the Russian segment of the outpost since 2010. On Monday, one of the older Russian units, the Pirs spacewalking compartment, undocked from the station to free up room for the new lab.
Nauka will require many maneuvers, including up to 11 spacewalks beginning in early September, to prepare it for operation.
The space station is currently operated by NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur; Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov of Russia’s Roscosmos space corporation; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
In 1998, Russia launched the station’s first compartment, Zarya, which was followed in 2000 by another big piece, Zvezda, and three smaller modules in the following years. The last of them, Rassvet, arrived at the station in 2010.
Russian space officials downplayed the incident with Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, tweeting: “All in order at the ISS. The crew is resting, which is what I advise you to do as well.”
Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press
There is contact! -Russia's new Nauka space module docks wit… – MENAFN.COM
(MENAFN – The Peninsula)
MOSCOW: Russia upgraded its capabilities on the International Space Station on Thursday after its new Nauka module, set to serve as a research lab, storage unit and airlock, successfully docked with it after a nervy journey from Earth.
A live broadcast from Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, showed the module, a multipurpose laboratory named after the Russian word for ‘science’, docking with the ISS at 1329 GMT, a few minutes later than scheduled.
“According to telemetry data and reports from the ISS crew, the onboard systems of the station and the Nauka module are operating normally,” Roscosmos said in a statement.
“There is contact!!!” Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos, wrote on Twitter moments after the docking.
Since it launch last week from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome, the module had suffered a series of glitches that had raised concerns about whether the docking procedure would go smoothly.
Thursday’s development suggests Russia is interested in maintaining the ISS despite previous comments from Rogozin who last month suggested Moscow would withdraw from it in 2025 unless Washington lifted sanctions on the space sector that he said were hampering Russian satellite launches.
Launched in 1998, the ISS is a multinational project and comprises two segments, a Russian one and another one used by the United States and other space agencies.
“After its commissioning, the Russian segment will receive additional room for arranging workplaces, storing cargo and housing water and oxygen regeneration equipment,” Roscosmos said its statement.
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Halifax researcher part of team behind black hole discovery that proves Einstein right – Global News
A researcher at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax was part of a team of scientists that observed light coming from behind a black hole for the very first time, confirming a prediction from famous physicist Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
While scientists have seen X-ray emissions around black holes before, it’s the first time light has been spotted behind a black hole – and the new discovery could lead to a better understanding of what’s still largely considered to be an astronomical mystery.
Luigi Gallo, a professor of astronomy at Saint Mary’s University who’s been studying black holes for 20 years, worked on the data analysis and interpretation for this research project, led by Stanford University astrophysicist Dan Wilkins.
“They’re my favourite objects, but I think I’m biased a bit,” Gallo said of black holes. “It’s the most extreme object in space, right? We don’t know a lot about them.”
Gallo’s research focuses on supermassive black holes – the regions in space where gravity is so strong that not even light can escape. Supermassive black holes are 10 million times larger than the sun.
Because of their very nature, black holes themselves can’t be seen. Scientists are only able to observe the objects around them.
As materials in space fall into a black hole, they form what’s called an “accretion disk,” where they spiral around before falling into the black hole.
On top of a black hole is a primary light source known as a “corona,” which illuminates the material. When the light shines onto the accretion disk, it bounces off and creates X-ray emissions or flares.
“It’s not exactly like a reflection in a mirror. What happens is that light comes back with different colours and it comes back at different times,” Gallo explained.
Proving Einstein right
What the five-person research team observed was a big flare coming from a supermassive black hole in a galaxy 800 million light-years away known as I Zwicky 1, using two space-based X-ray telescopes from NASA and the European Space Agency.
Shortly after seeing the big flare, Gallo said they observed a smaller flare in a different colour – an “echo” of the first flare.
“We were able to interpret that as light coming from the other side of the black hole,” said Gallo. “Which is really kind of cool, we haven’t ever been able to isolate exactly where light is coming from on the accretion disk … but in this instance, we’re actually able to say, ‘Oh, this light is coming from behind the black hole.’”
Shedding light on a black hole
That echo could be seen because the black hole was warping space by bending light around itself. Thus, Einstein’s century-old prediction was proven right, Gallo said.
“This is basically confirming how the space-time around a supermassive black hole is shaped,” he said.
“That’s why we can see light coming from behind the black hole, it’s because it’s taken this curved path around the black hole and landing now on us, so that we can see it … Because space is bent, which is a prediction of general relativity, we’re able to see what’s behind the black hole.”
This research, published earlier this week in Nature, opens the door a little further for scientists studying black holes.
Gallo said it will allow them to eventually draw a 3D picture of what the region around the supermassive black hole looks like. As well, he said they will continue to study “coronas” to better understand them, which was actually the driving motivation behind this discovery.
Gallo took note of the “incremental” nature of science and said there are decades of other discoveries that led them to this point.
“The telescopes that we work on get better and better with time, and the techniques that we develop get better and better,” he said.
“The discovery made today … is based on decades of work of many, many other scientists that brought us here.”
He added that it’s important to study black holes, since their formation and evolution is “tightly linked” to the formation and evolution of galaxies.
“Galaxies are stars, and then the stars are forming planets, and planets are where we are,” he said. “All this is kind of tied in understanding the origins of where we come from.
“So it is an important field of research, but it’s fun. So it’s kind of easy for me to justify doing this kind of work.”
— With a file from The Canadian Press
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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