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Start-up braced for blast-off

25 June 2020, at 7:48am

Aquaculture start-up Umitron has announced plans to launch a satellite in 2022 with a mission to gather ocean observations for the sector.

High-frequency and high-resolution observations of plankton and nutrient levels will be acquired to support fish, shellfish and algae farmers
High-frequency and high-resolution observations of plankton and nutrient levels will be acquired to support fish, shellfish and algae farmers

The planned launch will take place in cooperation with research groups lead by Tokyo Institute of Technology, after Umitron was selected for the 3rd innovative satellite demonstration programme of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

High-frequency and high-resolution observations of plankton and nutrient levels will be acquired to support fish, shellfish and algae farmers.

Aquaculture has become a key component of the global food production system and it is an important industry for the supply of marine products to a variety of markets. However, the oceans are in a state of rapid environmental change. As the water quality changes, risks in aquaculture grow.

For example, Umitron notes, fish can be easily killed by red tide algae blooms and seaweed or shellfish growth can be inhibited by nutrient depletion. In order to reduce these risks and stabilise aquaculture production, information on the ocean environment such as the distribution of plankton and nutrients is critical for the industry.

Umitron has been working with a research group led by the Tokyo Institute of Technology and it has been selected for a small satellite programme supported by JAXA to launch a marine observation satellite for aquaculture in 2022. UMITRON is in charge of demonstrating the use of satellite data in the aquaculture industry within this research group. A small satellite with the ability to gather high frequency and high-resolution data enables the close observation of coastal areas which are a key area for aquaculture operations.

Members of the project and roles

  • Tokyo Institute of Technology: representative institution
  • Nagoya University: oceanography and remote sensing data analysis
  • University of Tokyo: data use in academic fields
  • Tohoku University: ground station network in satellite communications
  • Umitron: data analysis and service demonstration for aquaculture industry
  • Genesia: observational instruments and multispectral cameras
  • Diiway Space: observational equipment and multispectral cameras
  • inet Satellite: operation and system design

Prior to this research project, Umitron has been working on an ocean data service for aquaculture called Umitron Pulse which is scheduled for release in early July 2020. This will be accompanied by a webinar, which can be signed up for here: https://umitron.com/pulse.html