Big challenges sometimes require small solutions.

At least when it comes to satellites.

The emergence of small satellites is changing the way GEOINT is captured and delivered. While NJVC delivers the enterprise IT and cloud-enabled computing to support intelligence gathering, one of our team has an even larger role in the small satellite revolution. Dan Twomey, a manager in our solutions group, will be moderating a panel on small satellites at GEOINT 2016 in Orlando, Florida, Tuesday May 17. The panel, titled "Filling the Gaps: Nuclear Activity Monitoring and Small Satellites," will be in Gainesville 1-2 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, from 8-9 a.m.

Before Dan sits down with industry experts, we put him on the spot to talk about the evolution of small satellites and what big—and small—things are in store.

For more information on Tuesday's panel, please click here.


Q: NJVC is an Intelligence Community leader in enterprise management, cloud migration, cyber security and software development, but not satellites. What is your job like at NJVC?
A: I support a number of interesting projects in the Intelligence Community, including the ongoing IC ITE initiative and an IC agency's migration to the cloud. Since I have been involved with my current IC agency since 2005—both as a civilian and, before I retired, as an active duty Air Force officer, I enjoy being part of the GEOINT mission and its contributions to national power.

Q: What led to your interest in small satellites?
A: A classmate worked on one of the first nano-satellites, CHIPSat, in the late '90s through launch in early 2003. Following his progress really peaked my interest. A few years ago, it became evident that the GEOINT community was embracing small sats as a means to fill gaps. I seized the opportunity to get involved.

Q: What impact have small satellites made on GEOINT? 
A: In my opinion, the biggest impacts are still to come.

Q: What are the biggest factors behind the surge in small sat usage and development recently?
A: The opportunity to apply the spectrum of phenomenologies and ‘INTs’ from low earth orbit with the persistence afforded from constellations of small satellites are the drivers. The relative cost compared to traditional satellite systems is a key enabler.

Q: The topic of the panel you'll be moderating is “Filling the Gaps: Nuclear Activity Monitoring and Small Satellites.” Please give us an overview of what you'll be discussing. What are the gaps currently?
A: In the past, analysts were concerned with gaps in coverage. Small satellite constellations will have the opposite problem of choosing which pass among many—phenomenology, geometry, revisit, etc.—will optimize collection.

Q: What will we think of when we talk about small satellites in the future? What will shape their evolution?
A: Space technology will continue to evolve on many unforeseen paths. Because of the deluge of data, the ground—analysis, services, algorithms, data mining—will drive the future.