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.
See A Jaw-Dropping Crescent Moon, 50 Meteors And Hour And Our Billion-Star Milky Way: What You Can See In The Night Sky This Week – Forbes
Each Monday I pick out the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses and more.
What To See In The Night Sky This Week: June 27-July 3, 2022
It’s not easy going stargazing in summer at this time of year in the northern hemisphere. The nights are just so short. The best reason to stay up late and go somewhere dark is the sight of the spiral arms of our Milky Way galaxy arcing across the night sky. Look to the southeast and south for that this month—and this week in particular, which will be largely moonless.
When our satellite does emerge from its New Moon conjunction with the Sun expect lush views of a slender crescent Moon. Who said summer was no good for stargazing?
Monday, June 27, 2022: Boötids meteor shower and a crescent Moon meets Mercury
The June Boötids meteor shower—occasionally called the June Draconids or Boötid-Draconids meteor shower—runs annually between June 22 and July 2, but peaks in the early hours of June 27, 2020.
If you are out stargazing late tonight keep an eye out for the 50 or so “shooting stars” per hour expected. The shower’s radiant point—the apparent source of the shooting stars—is the constellation of Boötes.
If you’re still up before dawn you might just catch the planet Mercury just 3.9º from an incredibly slender 2.6% crescent Moon, but be very careful if you use binoculars to help you because the rising Sun is NOT something you want in your field of view.
Tuesday, June 30, 2022: A super-slim crescent Moon and ‘Asteroid Day’
Today is Asteroid Day. With any luck there won’t be anything to see hurtling towards (or even smashing into) our planet, but it’s a good chance to consider the threat posed to Earth of incoming space rocks. What’s really going to change everything is the Vera Rubin Observatory, which from 2022 will deploy a wide-angle camera to map the night sky in real-time—and identify many thousands of hitherto unfound asteroids.
Friday, July 1, 2022: ‘Earthshine’ on a crescent Moon
You should get a much clearer view of a crescent Moon today. Now 8% illuminated, in a clear sky it will be a stunning sight, not least because you’ll be able to see sunlight being reflected onto the Moon by the Earth as “Earthshine” or “planet-shine.” It’s a subtle sight, but once seen cannot be unseen; look at the Moon’s darkened limb with your eyes, or better still, with a pair of binoculars, to appreciate this fine sight.
As a bonus it will be just 3.5° from the Beehive Cluster, though you’ll need a pair of binoculars to see its 30 or so easily visible stars.
Saturday, July 2, 2022: ‘Earthshine’ on a crescent Moon and Regulus
Tonight just after sunset look west for a 14% crescent Moon, once again displaying Earthshine. The stars around it will be those of the “sickle” in the constellation of Leo. The brightest, about 5º left of the Moon, will be Leo’s brightest star, Regulus. It’s one of the brightest stars in the night sky and about 78 light-years distant.
Object of the week: noctilucent clouds
This time of year the twilight seems to last forever at northerly latitudes so consider looking for a “ghostly” display of noctilucent or “night shining” clouds (NLCs). At their best in northern twilight skies during June and July (at latitudes between 50° and 70° north and south of the equator), NLCs are very delicate high altitude clouds of icy dust that form about 50 miles/80 kilometres up. Because the Sun is never too far below the horizon at these latitudes they get subtly lit up for a short time. They’re best seen with the naked eye or a pair of binoculars.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.
Astronomers Found a Crater From The Mystery Rocket That Smashed Into The Moon – ScienceAlert
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) – NASA’s eye-in-the-sky in orbit around the Moon – has found the crash site of the mystery rocket booster that slammed into the far side of the Moon back on 4 March 2022.
The LRO images, taken May 25th, revealed not just a single crater, but a double crater formed by the rocket’s impact, posing a new mystery for astronomers to unravel.
Why a double crater? While somewhat unusual – none of the Apollo S-IVBs that hit the Moon created double craters – they’re not impossible to create, especially if an object hits at a low angle. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
Astronomer Bill Gray, who first discovered the object and predicted its lunar demise back in January, explains that the booster “came in at about 15 degrees from vertical. So that’s not the explanation for this one.”
The impact site consists of an 18-meter-wide eastern crater superimposed on a 16-meter-wide western crater. Mark Robinson, Principal Investigator of the LRO Camera team, proposes that this double crater formation might result from an object with distinct, large masses at each end.
“Typically a spent rocket has mass concentrated at the motor end; the rest of the rocket stage mainly consists of an empty fuel tank. Since the origin of the rocket body remains uncertain, the double nature of the crater may help to indicate its identity,” he said.
So what is it?
It’s a long story. The unidentified rocket first came to astronomers’ attention earlier this year when it was identified as a SpaceX upper stage, which had launched NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) to the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrange Point in 2015.
Gray, who designs software that tracks space debris, was alerted to the object when his software pinged an error. He told The Washington Post on January 26 that “my software complained because it couldn’t project the orbit past March 4, and it couldn’t do it because the rocket had hit the Moon.”
Gray spread the word, and the story made the rounds in late January – but a few weeks later, he received an email from Jon Giorgini at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL).
Giorgini pointed out that DSCOVR’s trajectory shouldn’t have taken the booster anywhere near the Moon. In an effort to reconcile the conflicting trajectories, Gray began to dig back into his data, where he discovered that he had misidentified the DSCOVR booster way back in 2015.
SpaceX wasn’t the culprit after all. But there was definitely still an object hurtling towards the Moon. So what was it?
A bit of detective work led Gray to determine it was actually the upper stage of China’s Chang’e 5-T1 mission, a 2014 technology demonstration mission that lay the groundwork for Chang’e 5, which successfully returned a lunar sample to Earth in 2020 (incidentally, China recently announced it would follow up this sample return mission with a more ambitious Mars sample return project later this decade).
Jonathan McDowell offered some corroborating evidence that seemed to bolster this new theory for the object’s identity.
The mystery was solved.
Except, days later, China’s Foreign Minister claimed it was not their booster: it had deorbited and crashed into the ocean shortly after launch.
As it stands now, Gray remains convinced it was the Change 5-T1 booster that hit the Moon, proposing that the Foreign Minister made an honest mistake, confusing Chang’e 5-T1 with the similarly named Chang’e 5 (whose booster did indeed sink into the ocean).
As for the new double crater on the Moon, the fact that the LRO team was able to find the impact site so quickly is an impressive feat in itself. It was discovered mere months after impact, with a little help from Gray and JPL, who each independently narrowed the search area down to a few dozen kilometers.
For comparison, The Apollo 16 S-IVB impact site took more than six years of careful searching to find.
New Zealand Says It's Set to 'Star' in NASA's Return to the Moon – BNN
(Bloomberg) — New Zealand is trumpeting its role in a plan to return humans to the Moon, saying it is set to star in NASA’s Capstone mission that will test the orbit for a lunar space station.
Rocket Lab has announced it will launch a satellite from Mahia, New Zealand, to test the lunar orbit for Gateway, a planned Moon-orbiting outpost that will provide astronauts with access to the lunar surface. Separately, New Zealand’s government said Monday it has signed an agreement with NASA to conduct new research to track spacecraft approaching and orbiting the Moon.
“The New Zealand space sector is set to star in NASA’s Capstone Moon mission,” said Andrew Johnson, manager of the New Zealand Space Agency. Launching into lunar orbit from New Zealand is “a significant milestone,” while the new research “will be increasingly important as more countries and private actors send spacecraft to the Moon,” he said.
NASA’s Artemis Program plans to return humans to the lunar surface as early as 2025, renewing human exploration of the Moon and progressing toward the exploration of Mars. It plans to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon and explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.
Rocket Lab said it could launch the CubeSat satellite as soon as Tuesday, with the launch window open through July 27.
New Zealand’s agreement with NASA will see a University of Canterbury-led research team, which includes contributors from the University of Auckland and the University of New South Wales in Australia, attempt to track spacecraft from observatories in Tekapo and Canberra.
The scientists intend to validate their observations and algorithms to predict spacecraft trajectories enroute to the Moon and within their lunar orbits against NASA’s Capstone mission data.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.
See A Jaw-Dropping Crescent Moon, 50 Meteors And Hour And Our Billion-Star Milky Way: What You Can See In The Night Sky This Week – Forbes
Astronomers Found a Crater From The Mystery Rocket That Smashed Into The Moon – ScienceAlert
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