Discover more from Earthlings
Tomorrow.io Secures $87 million for Weather Satellites
PLUS: Key building block for life found on Saturn’s moon
Good morning Earthlings 👽️ 🖖
The space economy doesn’t sleep. Let’s get right into it.
In today's edition of Earthlings...
⛈️ Tomorrow.io raises $87 Million
🔦 Radar weather satellites make it back to space
🌊 Key building block for life found on Saturn’s moon
Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here.
Tomorrow.io announced its $87 million funding round on June 14 after launching its second satellite, Tomorrow-R2, on the recent SpaceX Transporter-8 rideshare flight. The company had previously made history in April 2023 by launching Tomorrow-R1, claimed to be the world's first commercially constructed weather-radar satellite. The $87 million Series E round was led by Activate Capital with RTX Ventures, Seraphim Space and Chemonics joining the round. Existing Tomorrow.io investors, SquarePeg Capital, Canaan, ClearVision, JetBlue Ventures and Pitango, also provided funding.
Building its roots as a software firm in Boston, Tomorrow.io was founded in 2016 and has built technology aimed at delivering incredibly precise, street-level weather forecasts. The company can predict and plan for severe weather by gathering data from government radar, data satellites, weather stations, cellular signals, and even connected vehicles with temperature sensors - what its CEO and co-founder, Shimon Elkmbetz, called the “weather of things.”
There’s been no better time in history to cost-effectively send payload into space. Flash-forward to 2023, and Tomorrow.io is vertically integrating by owning and deploying their own radar satellites.
So, why does radar matter in weather satellites? Only a handful of atmospheric radars currently orbit Earth, and all were built by government agencies. The unique selling point of the company’s radar tech lies in its ability to penetrate cloud cover and yield real-time insights into precipitation, wind, and other meteorological conditions – simply unattainable with non-radar satellites.
But what about existing weather prediction methods? NASA’s radar satellite data delay spans three days or more due to its distance and orbit frequency over the U.S. Meanwhile, terrestrial radar, usually featured in local news broadcasts, isn't universally available. Larger regions like Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and India simply lack radar infrastructure, and even certain U.S. mountainous areas are void of land-based radar coverage, complicating precise storm forecasting for coastal zones.
Elkmbetz said the company intends to launch more than two dozen of its own satellites over the next two years - he says this will create a “constellation” of weather monitoring systems that will be able to sample every point on earth, nearly every hour.
So who’s buying?
Air carriers and airports are key customers, tapping into real-time meteorological data to optimize flight schedules, routes, and safety procedures with major clients now including Delta, United, and JetBlue. A 2021 case study showed JetBlue leveraging Tomorrow.io to predict when a storm would stop, reducing delays and cancellations, and saving their operations team up to $50,000 monthly.
Insurance companies will also benefit, better controlling risks linked to weather events and making insurance more widely available. Rumour has it that some forty-year old actuaries at State Farm busted out their first ever chest-bump when they caught wind of the news. In all seriousness, Indian crop insurance uptake has been weak due to insufficient risk assessment and poor government execution, with just 30% of Indian farmers having crop insurance as of 2018. Tomorrow.io aims to assist insurers in providing better coverage to farmers in India and Brazil. Here’s a rabbit hole about the operational nightmare that is Indian crop insurance, if you’re interested.
Military applications: To date, Tomorrow.io has received more than $30 million in contracts from the Defence Department. The company also won $10.3 million in U.S. Space Force funding for two weather satellites that will “augment the existing commercially-owned, managed, and sustained weather constellation to support weather data-as-a-service use by the military,” according to a May 22 news release.
Watch out meteorologists…
Aliens have been a hot topic recently. While there are too many question marks to speak about extraterrestrial life here on Earth, scientists have detected the presence of phosphorus in the vast subsurface ocean of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus - a discovery that provides further evidence of the moon’s potential to support life.
Frank Postberg, the planetary scientist who spearheaded this new study, commented, "We had previously ascertained that Enceladus' ocean harbours an abundance of organic compounds," referring to the detection of sodium, potassium, chlorine, and other substances in a 2019 research paper.
"But this latest revelation showcases a definitive chemical trace of considerable quantities of phosphorus salts within the icy particulates launched into the cosmos by the moon's water plume. This marks the first time this essential element has been detected in an extraterrestrial ocean."
Very large plumes: Enceladus is known for having plumes (i.e., geysers of water) that erupt through cracks in the moon’s icy crust. Sometimes these can extend hundreds of miles into space - more than 20 times the size of the moon itself.
There is a good chance that within our lifetime, we will have confirmation of life beyond our planet. As for now, there is a proposed Enceladus Orbilander mission set for the 2050s that could potentially land on the surface of the moon and search for signs of life directly.
📰 In Other News…
Two NASA astronauts will conduct a spacewalk outside the International Space Station today (Thursday June 15), and you can watch the 6-hour excursion live a 8:55 a.m. EDT, right here.
Satellites keep photobombing space images. Astronomers are not pleased.
Home to SpaceX and Firefly Aerospace, Texas officially launches a Space Commission after Texas Gov. Greg Abbot signed the bill establishing it into law on Tuesday.
🐦 Tweet of the Day
fascinating. are they planning on building one or will they just be yelling in our general direction? https://t.co/HSrQEQ0EAa
🤖 AI Art of the Day
That’s it for today, Earthlings.
Thanks for reading - we’ll see you next time! 🧑🚀