WorldView Legion and Vricon: Why should analysts care?
Image caption: Vricon 3D model of the Great Wall of China.
According to FBI Director Christopher Wray, “the greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality, [is] the counterintelligence and economic espionage threat from China.” Indeed, China has been on the U.S. government’s radar as a national security question for quite some time. Looking back to 2007, the Open Source Center reported on China training military troops to evade detection, likely from both HUMINT and IMINT capabilities. Satellite surveillance no doubt topped the list of China’s concerns and actions to evade.
The commercial satellite industry responded to this challenge.
In 2021, Maxar will deploy the WorldView Legion satellites, capable of delivering up to 15 revisits per day with 30-centimeter resolution. In fact, the constellation will collect 5 million square kilometers each day.
So what does this mean for national security analysts?
WorldView Legion’s ability to conduct multiple passes a day on the same location will make evading such surveillance efforts significantly more difficult for America’s adversaries.
The new constellation “will redefine what’s possible by enabling more accurate, comprehensive, and timely pattern-of-life and human geography analysis.” The satellites’ frequent imagery collection means better mapping for better understanding of conditions on the ground, globally. Pairing advanced geospatial analytics—to include Vricon 3D data—with this feed of imagery will enable analysts to gain a nearly uninterrupted view of their target.
Analysts will gain an optimum view of their target and locations of interest, removing many intelligence gaps often associated with outdated or unclear imagery. Specifically, the constellation will provide analysts with insights into typically more restricted topics and locations, such as the daily development of infrastructure, the development of covert complexes that could confirm or deny a building’s intended purpose, or active or passive camouflage. Moreover, the unclassified nature of the commercial satellite imagery enables governments to more easily share information with allies in joint operations or with nonprofits during natural disasters or emergencies.
Vricon, A Maxar Company, is working to further develop its algorithms to process the new 30cm imagery and produce a geospecific 3D representation of the planet. We don’t know the full extent of the capabilities that will result from using WorldView Legion imagery, but we anticipate greater accuracy and the ability to build 3D models that are even more timely. So, our 3D analytics and data models will continue to depict the world the way it really is—but even better from the analysts’ point of view.