The continued focus of government and commercial enterprise on developing new satellite-based technologies means the space business is booming. From communications to space telescopes, weather observation, and navigation systems among many others, the number of satellites orbiting the earth is growing, while the sophistication of the satellite technologies in service is advancing rapidly. The development of small satellites or “SmallSats” has accelerated the proliferation of satellite technology by reducing mission costs and enabling entirely new system architectures. HawkEye 360, a satellite-based RF data analytics program, is one such system taking advantage of the powerful capabilities of commercial SmallSat constellations to observe previously uncharted activities across land, sea and air, and Mini-Circuits components make it possible.

Hawkeye360 SmallSats provide geospatial intelligence by detecting RF emissions to uncover hidden knowledge about activities ranging from wireless network coverage to illegal fishing.

HawkEye360 provides valuable information to clients by detecting radio frequency emissions on earth’s surface to reveal hidden knowledge about human activities around the world through advanced analytics. This capability provides geospatial intelligence that governments use to help first responders save lives, enforce laws against illegal fishing and poaching, and even provide insights about the impacts of COVID-19. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), a U.S. based intelligence agency has used HawkEye’s data to find guerilla camps and mobile missile launchers, track warships and spot illegal mining operations. In the private sector, wireless network operators can use data from HawkEye360 to better understand spectrum utilization and network coverage in planning deployment of new infrastructure.

Orbiting in clusters of three, each HawkEye satellite has the ability to pick up different RF signals; when all three satellites pick up the same signal, the HawkEye team uses triangulation to determine where that signal is coming from, the company’s CTO explained in a press release. Flying in low-Earth orbit (LEO), the satellites are able to geolocate RF signals anywhere across the globe. So far, HawkEye has launched the first two of five planned satellite clusters, for a total of 15 SmallSats slated to take flight by the end of 2023. As demand for RF intelligence capabilities grows, several other companies are getting in on the action, with a Florida-based analytics firm estimating the number of SmallSats in orbit to increase from 12 to more than 60 between January and December 2021.

Artist’s rendering of a SmallSat orbiting Earth.

Mini-Circuits is proud to support HawkEye360 and many other innovators in the space industry in developing technologies for a safer, smarter, more connected world. We have over 30 years of experience supporting customers with space level screening requirements, and many of our off-the-shelf products are available for upscreening. Learn more about Mini-Circuits space upscreening program, and see how we can add value as a partner in your next mission.

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