The Brazilian government will help develop satellite-based technology to monitor the Amazon and other Amazonian areas, in partnership with leading space company SpaceX, according to a statement from the Brazilian authorities on Wednesday.
The agreement with SpaceX, headed by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, is among several goals in a year-long program to improve the country’s understanding of the Amazon, with a focus on the fastest-growing part of the world’s greatest biome.
To implement its plan, called the Amazon Excellency and Empresa Samba Brasil Amazonia, Brazilian officials will work with Rosetta, an unmanned ocean-surveillance startup owned by SpaceX, to monitor Amazonian rainforest, which covers more than 12 percent of the Brazilian state of Para, and will eventually send satellite-based sensors to Amazonian communities in order to protect the habitat, according to the statement.
“The way Brazil is going to measure the Amazon is with the camera in the sky. The satellite will record the amount of clouds in the sky with its sensors and will then be fed into the Amazon Biotec system, a network that gives us better monitoring of the Amazon,” Soeher Madjilmaz, director of Amazon excellency and rural development at the Ministry of Rural Development, told Brazil’s Globo TV.
In another aspect of the partnership, Madjilmaz said a helicopter-equipped drone will soon make its first flight to Anapu in the Amazon city of Manaus to collect data about the forest.
“Space exploration is an integral part of conservation and a part of a program that the Ministry is proud to be involved in,” Madjilmaz said.
For Brazil, the partnership could help break its dependence on land-based observation.
It also helps revive a joint venture between SpaceX and Rio de Janeiro-based satellite company Hispasat as both companies are anxious to increase the use of satellites in Brazil, following a sharp slowdown after a government-led competition in 2014.
In October, Hispasat won a four-year contract with Brazilian telecommunications company Telebras worth about $890 million.