Pixxel, an Indian hyperspectral imaging firm, has announced a partnership with Rio Tinto, which will provide Rio Tinto with early access to the data from satellites set to launch early this year. Rio Tinto is going to have access to the hyperspectral imagery at a resolution of 5 meters from Pixxel’s satellites as part of an “early adopter collaboration” announced by Pixxel on January 13. Rio Tinto will examine the information to see if it can be used to locate mineral deposits and monitor operating and closed mines.
“Rio Tinto is participating in Pixxel’s Early Adopter Program since we believe exploration will benefit from more cost-effective and quicker access to the hyperspectral satellite data,” said Dave Andrews, Rio Tinto’s head of exploration. Rio Tinto is the very first mining corporation to join Pixxel’s early adopter program, according to Awais Ahmed, who is the co-founder and CEO of Pixxel. Agriculture, as well as the oil and gas industry, are two other businesses that Pixxel has not identified.
“Mining will be a big user of hyperspectral data,” he said. “We’re attempting to assist Rio Tinto in reducing the impact of their exploration by advising them on the locations where they should concentrate their efforts.” The collaborations are designed to aid in the understanding of hyperspectral imagery’s possible uses, which comprise hundreds of spectral bands. Although such imagery has long seemed promising, Earth observation firms have found it hard to find compelling applications for it among clients.
“Rio Tinto has its internal data science team which has been engaging with multispectral satellite data and is interested in hyperspectral data,” Ahmed explained. Pixxel also intends to work with Rio Tinto on creating hyperspectral data analysis software pipelines.
According to him, the deal entails a year of technology demos and pilot initiatives, with Rio Tinto paying for the data. “It’ll be a pure commercial potential after 12 months,” he said. Rio Tinto as well as other early adopters will use data from satellites Pixxel is going to deploy to evaluate. The first satellite is set to fly as a rideshare payload on the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle early this year. Following that, in April, a satellite on the SpaceX dedicated rideshare mission will be launched. Pixxel wants to launch a constellation of satellites, with these being the first. According to Ahmed, six additional satellites will be launched by the close of the year.