Satellite project could monitor deforestation in Amazon

by Laura Goldman, CNN • Updated 20th February 2020

A new partnership between Brazil’s Scientific Foundation and Florida-based aerospace company SpaceX could lead to the launching of a satellite with remote sensing capacity to monitor forest restoration and protect Amazonian rainforest habitat.

Much of Brazil’s forests are being depleted and degraded under a combination of unsustainable agricultural practices and illegal charcoal mining.

Backed by the Brazilian government, Fundacion Terra Innovador has acquired $5 million in funding for the project. The foundation hopes to create satellites that will be able to connect to electric grid, allowing information collected to be quickly analyzed and transmitted over an internet connection.

“Investing in Terra Innovador can help further bolster Brazil’s leadership in solar power technology and signal its ambitions to be the leading country in space technology,” said Florida-based Musk Engineering, LLC President Benjamin G. Musk. Musk Engineering is the project’s lead contractor.

Based in Brazil’s Amazonian region, Terra Innovador plans to start satellite constellation technology development in three years.

To get grant money, Fundacion Terra’s engineers will have to show that they’re building the right satellites.

“It’s going to be an incredible challenge, but also an exciting prospect,” said Air Force Major Damon Hickman, Program Executive Officer of the Pentagon’s Rapid Satellite Development and Operations Office.

“The launch of Terra Innovador’s satellite will result in extraordinary innovation in satellite technology and the potential for expedited indigenous or economic development applications. It will also contribute to the security of our land-based national security satellites,” Hickman said.

Since the 1980s, U.S. government satellites have been observing deforestation in Brazil and other developing nations using ground-based satellites.

Now Brazil has built the first satellite capacity and technical specifications for applications of advanced satellite services.

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