Amazon's cloud service can now link up with satellites

Amazon Web Services now lets users pull data directly from satellites

28 Nov 2018

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has just announced AWS Ground Station, a service that lets AWS users feed satellite data direct into AWS cloud infrastructure at an easier and more affordable price point.

Announced during Amazon's re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, Amazon revealed that there will be 12 of these Ground Stations located around the world. Working as antennas to connect up with passing satellites in orbit it should allow AWS users to draw information from a far more tangible cloud, space.

To allay fears around the problems other satellite-link systems have, namely slow transfers in tight windows due to passing orbits, Amazon has set up a scheduling time that works out when satellites will be available to connect so the process can be automated.

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According to AWS, customers can figure out which ground station they want to interact with and identify the satellite they want to connect with. Then, they can schedule a contact time; the exact time they want the satellite to interact with the chosen ground station as it passes by.

Each AWS Ground Stations will be fitted with multiple antennas to simultaneously download and upload data through an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud - directly feeding it into the customer's AWS infrastructure.

"Instead of the old norm where it took hours, or sometimes days, to get data to the infrastructure to process it," added Jassy. "It's right there in the region in seconds. A real game changer for linking with satellites."

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While AWS provides the cloud computing, the antennas themselves have come from its partnership with Lockheed Martin, which has developed a network of antennas called Verge. Where AWS offer the powers to process and store, Verge promises a resilient link for the data to travel to.

"Our collaboration with AWS allows us to deliver robust ground communications that will unlock new benefits for environmental research, scientific studies, security operations, and real-time news media," said Ric Ambrose, executive VP of Lockheed Martin.

"In time, with satellites built to take full advantage of the distributed Verge network, AWS and Lockheed Martin expect to see customers develop surprising new capabilities using the service."

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