AWS Ground Station – Ingest and Process Data from Orbiting Satellites

By Angie Johnston  |  December 11, 2018

Jeff Barr | AWS Re: Invent, Launch, News | Nov 27, 2018

Did you know that there are currently thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth? I certainly did not and would have guessed a few hundred at most. Today, high school and college students design, fabricate, and launch nano-, pico-, and even femto-satellites such as CubeSats, PocketQubes, and SunCubes. On the commercial side, organizations of any size can now launch satellites for Earth observation, communication, media distribution, and so forth.

All of these satellites collect a lot of data, and that’s where things get even more interesting. While it is now relatively cheap to get a satellite into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) or Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) and only slightly more expensive to achieve a more distant Geostationary Orbit, getting that data back to Earth is still more difficult than it should be. Large-scale satellite operators often build and run their own ground stations at a cost of up to one million dollars or more each; smaller operators enter into inflexible long-term contracts to make use of existing ground stations.

Some of the challenges that I reviewed above may remind you of those early, pre-cloud days when you had to build and run your own data center. That changed when we launched Amazon EC2 back in 2006.

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