A Moment with Aravind Ravichandran – Demystifying Space Data

Screenshot 2023-08-30 at 16.44.16

A Moment with Aravind Ravichandran – Demystifying Space Data

The year was 2017 when Aravind Ravichandran, previously a software developer, dared to launch himself into the space industry. His plunge was less about the attraction of the cosmos and more about the potential for impactful work, as he confessed in a recent interview.

My story was not really like any sort of space geek…I just wanted to work on something impactful.” says Ravichandran, who is currently an Expert for the European Commission, a freelance Mentor and Advisor as well as the Founder of TerraWatch Space.

A career move catalyzed by the right conversations led him from software into space, first landing in the space practice at consulting giant PwC. However, it was here that Ravichandran noticed an untapped market – Earth observation.

Ravichandran noted a lack of concentrated analysis and consulting services in Earth observation, despite the area’s sizable potential.

Satellite data was not mainstream…I couldnt find a lot of information on the market,” he commented.

This realization ultimately sparked the creation of TerraWatch Space, an advisory and insights firm focusing on Earth observation, satellite data, and its applications.

The firm operates in two significant ways. TerraWatch provides insights into the industry through blogs, newsletters, and podcasts, and on the other hand, consulting services to guide clients on adopting and utilizing the technology for various applications.

Earth Observation: data to insights. Credit: TerraWatch Space

Ravichandran believes there are misconceptions about space data, especially Earth observation, and its applications. For instance, he says, Everyone interacts with an Earth observation satellite, when they wake up in the morning and open a weather app. That little smiley would not exist without satellite data.”

He talks about data plucked from space being crucial across sectors, including agriculture, mining, insurance, and the gaming industry.

“The space part is only 25% of my work. 75% of my work is outside the space part because that’s where the market gets its potential,” Ravichandran explained.

There’s a broad misunderstanding about the ubiquity of Earth observation technology that Ravichandran is eager to dismantle.

“Earth observation is already playing a part in people’s lives, and they just don’t realize it… You wont interact with it…What matters is not the image but the application or the insights from that image.”

A firm believer in responsible advancement, Ravichandran thinks satellites should be launched with a clear purpose and not just because we can. Sustainability is another issue dear to him, especially concerning the astronomical amounts of satellites already up there. However, he insists that from an Earth observation perspective, we could still launch more purposeful satellites because “there’s a lot of gaps that still exist”.

Ravichandran’s end goal with TerraWatch Space is to position the firm as a dependable leader when it comes to Earth observation advisory services and insights. In five years, he dreams of the company being the “go-to” for investors entering the market, companies strategizing their growth, and governments developing their space strategies. This ambitious venture is fueling the movement to make space data a common asset, unlocking vast potential for industries here on Earth. Certainly a story to watch as TerraWatch strives to bring this dream to fruition.

Featured image: Overview of Earth Observation Sensors. Credit TerraWatch Space