Earth+: on-board satellite imagery compression leveraging historical earth observations


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With the increasing deployment of earth observation satellite constellations, the downlink (satellite-to-ground) capacity often limits the freshness, quality, and coverage of the imagery data available to applications on the ground. To overcome the downlink limitation, we present Earth+, a new satellite imagery compression system that, instead of compressing each image individually, pinpoints and downloads only recent imagery changes with respect to the history reference images. To minimize the amount of changes, it is critical to make reference images as fresh as possible. Earth+ enables each satellite to choose fresh reference images from not only its own history images but also past images of other satellites from an entire satellite constellation. To share reference images across satellites, Earth+ utilizes the limited capacity of the existing uplink (ground-to-satellite) by judiciously selecting and compressing reference images while still allowing accurate change detection. In short, Earth+ is the first to make reference-based compression efficient, by enabling constellation-wide sharing of fresh reference images across satellites. Our evaluation shows that Earth+ can reduce the downlink usage by a factor of 3.3 compared to state-of-the-art on-board image compression techniques while not sacrificing image quality, or using more on-board computing or storage resources, or more uplink bandwidth than currently available.
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