HawkEye 360 Uses Satellites to Detect and Locate RF Signals on Earth

Satellite-based solutions provider, HawkEye 360 has announced the successful launch of its Pathfinder Mission satellites. The satellites will deliver a unique source of radio frequency (RF) data that HawkEye 360 will use to create first-of-its-kind RF-based analytics. Each of these small satellites is equipped with a software-defined radio that can tune to different frequencies and pick up different RF signals. When the company sees the same signal from all three satellites, it triangulates it and figures out where the signal is coming from.

According to the company, it is the first time a commercial company has utilized formation-flying satellites for RF detection. Now that the Pathfinder satellites have reached orbit, HawkEye 360 will initiate system checkout and begin to maneuver the satellites into position over the next several weeks. The satellites will be able to identify and precisely geo-locate a broad set of RF signals from emitters such as VHS push-to-talk radios, maritime radar systems, AIS beacons, VSAT terminals, emergency beacons and more.

The company processes and analyzes signals using proprietary algorithms and machine-learning tools to deliver actionable insights. It is developing foundational products that build global awareness of spectrum deployment, creating an RF data layer for the planet. The resulting analytical products will help customers assess suspicious vessel activity and risk, survey how frequencies are used, detect communication interference, evaluate communication outages during disasters and help rescuers search for people in distress.

HawkEye 360’s core business is of RF analytics, which is dependent upon high-quality, geo-located RF data. HawkEye 360 will continue growing its constellation to improve revisit rates with their next set of satellites already under development for launch later in 2019.

The first cluster of the company’s three formation flying satellites was launched aboard Spaceflight’s SSO-A: SmallSat Express rideshare on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.