AI and nanosatellites, how the start-up Prometheus wants to revolutionize the processing of space data

It’s a new boost for the French newspace. The startup Prometheus, a specialist in earth observation data, announced on April 12 that it had successfully raised a second fundraising round in the amount of 4.12 million euros. A little over a year ago, she managed to raise 2.2 million. The company hopes to complete a new funding round for an amount of 15 million euros before the end of the year.

Behind this success, driven in particular by CNES and Bpifrance, lies an innovative proposal for geospatial services, which is based on the one hand on an aggregative data platform and on the other hand on the establishment of a constellation of nanosatellites with high revisit rate. The objective according to Olivier Pripesz, founder of the company, is to ” democratize the acquisition and processing of data from space » and to offer these services to companies or States which do not have their own Earth observation infrastructures.

Combine data sources

In terms of digital data processing, the company relies on the skills of its “data scientists” and “in-house” artificial intelligence algorithms. This know-how promotes the linking of information from different sources. ” There is a large amount of spatial data which is freely accessible and which represents a real mine to be exploited.explains Olivier Priepsz. One thinks for example of the images provided by the Copernicus network. But it is still necessary to cross them with other data to draw relevant information. »

Prometheus has, for example, developed a CO2 monitoring tool, called Carbon Tracker, which combines data from IoT sensors on the ground with images from the Sentinel-2 satellite. The start-up has also developed an epidemic monitoring tool – Prometheus Health – by combining information from Inserm and Earth observation data.

To develop its services, Prometheus also relies on a consortium of companies, the Kollectiv, which brings together specialists in the acquisition and processing of spatial data. Launched in July 2021, this organization brings together 8 companies (6 French and 2 German) each with a particular area of ​​expertise, whether in AI, blockchain, the cloud or even mapping.

A number of revisits 20 times higher

To improve the data acquisition process, Prometheus will also send its own constellation of nanosatellites into low orbit. A first prototype is being assembled by the Lithuanian satellite manufacturer NanoAvionics. ” We expect this first satellite to be put into orbit in the fall of 2023. “, points out Olivier Priepz, who indicates that to go quickly, the company has chosen many components “off the shelf”.

This first satellite called ProtoMéthée-1 will essentially carry a multispectral observation system. It will be followed in the coming years by a second satellite, ProtoMéthée-2, which will carry a hyperspectral system with a resolution of 8 to 10 m. ” Yes the multispectral allows us to see the Earth, the hyperspectral will allow us to characterize with precision certain materials or chemical elements », Comments Olivier Pripezs. The future constellation will be made up of a mix of satellites, some equipped with multispectral systems, others with hyperspectral devices. These satellites should allow 20 times more passages per day, according to the start-up.

By 2025, Prometheus aims to bring together a hundred employees in France, on its sites in Paris and Toulouse, but also on a third site which should soon be announced.

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AI and nanosatellites, how the start-up Prometheus wants to revolutionize the processing of space data


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