Descartes Labs uses Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) to run a 9.95 petaflops High-Performance LINPACK (HPL) benchmark, placing it #40 in the June 2021 TOP500 ranking. The company improves on its previous AWS-based 2019 TOP500 submission (1.926 petaflops, #136) by 417% in HPL performance and 96 ranking spots in only two years.

SANTA FE — ( — Jun. 28, 2021 — Descartes Labs, Inc. today announced a new cloud supercomputing achievement with a TOP500 run on AWS of 9.95 petaflops using virtualized Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. The TOP500 organization uses the LINPACK Benchmark-a test that involves solving a dense system of linear equations-to rank the performance of the 500 most powerful commercially available computer systems. Descartes Labs improved its previous cloud record of 1.926 petaflops set in its 2019 TOP500 submission (#136 ranking) with a 417% HPL performance improvement over two years, and improved performance by a factor of…

Vaccine rollouts and sluggish supply chains still facing pandemic-related restrictions drove increased demand in the first half of 2021 for basic commodities like soybeans, sugar, vegetable oils, meat, and dairy.

Improving trading and procurement performance with geospatial data and machine learning

A recent report by the UN FAO Food Price Index saw global food prices reach their highest levels in a decade in May, up 4.8% compared to April and 39.7% since the same time last year. Vaccine rollouts and sluggish supply chains still facing pandemic-related restrictions drove increased demand for basic commodities like soybeans, sugar, vegetable oils, meat, and dairy.

Raw material inflation has been on a tear in 2021, flattening product margins and pushing up consumer prices. …

Sentinel-2 shortwave infrared false color over an area in southeast Nevada
Sentinel-2 shortwave infrared false color over an area in southeast Nevada
Sentinel-2 false color image of an area near Death Valley National Park, CA.

Enhancing mineral prospecting and tailings safety with massively scalable models of the earth

“Covid is ushering in a new era of policies aimed at social need instead of financial stability which will likely create cyclically stronger, more commodity-intensive economic growth, that should create the elusive cyclical upswing in demand.”

— Goldman Sachs, Commodities Outlook 2021, Nov. 18, 2020

Ever since the launch of Landsat 1 in 1972, remote sensing has been used by the mining industry to map surface geology and alteration minerals associated with ore deposits of interest. Despite its usefulness, mineral targeting workflows have struggled to scale beyond individual project areas. …

The combination of global climate models and land cover data can be used to estimate the regional effects of climate change years into the future

By Sepideh Khajehei — Sepideh is an Applied Scientist at Descartes Labs working on the Forestry & Climate team. She has a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Portland State University with domain expertise in hydrology, weather and climate risk, and natural hazard prediction. With collaboration by Alex Diamond, Julio Herrera Estrada, and Jason Schatz.

In December 2019, Goldman Sachs issued an environmental policy framework that halted the company’s financing of deals in environmentally damaging industry sectors. Carbon-intensive projects like coal-fired power generation, mountaintop removal mining, and arctic oil and gas exploration would be avoided in favor of projects…

Predicting Vegetation Indices Using Radar Imagery

By Terry Conlon — Ph.D. Student in the Sustainable Engineering Lab at Columbia University. Terry completed the following work as a Descartes Labs intern this summer, where he worked with Rose Rustowicz to apply deep learning methods to timeseries of satellite imagery.


Despite numerous advances in the collection and distribution of satellite imagery — including those that allow sensing at sub-meter resolutions, rapid orbital periods, and public access to petabytes of data — one fundamental problem remains: how do you deal with clouds? …

Non-snowy summertime imagery at left compared to synthetic snowy imagery over the same location at right.

Generating realistic but synthetic images to test automated change detection algorithms

By Christopher Ren — Chick Keller Postdoctoral Fellow in the Space Data Science & System Group, Intelligence and Space Research Division (ISR-3) at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Chris’s research interests include anomalous change detection, multi-sensor data fusion, remote sensing, and machine learning.


One of the techniques developed at the Intelligence and Space Research Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory to analyze satellite imagery time-series is known as ‘anomalous change detection’ (ACD). In the ACD problem setting, we point the algorithm towards a pair of images taken at the same location but at different times and ask the question “which pixels/regions…

A three month Sentinel-1 SAR composite over Singapore with lighter colors capturing economic activity on land and at sea. Descartes Labs Economic Activity Signals uses multimodal remotely sensed data to measure changes at thousands of factories, ports, and facilities globally.

How to remotely monitor supply and demand to make better business decisions in times of economic disruption

We’re excited to announce the release of our Economic Activity Signals (EAS) quick-start package — a collection of geographic data feeds that track real-world behavior to help estimate daily changes in supply, demand, distribution, and the operational state of facilities on a global scale.

The package helps data science, procurement, sourcing, and business line leaders in agriculture, CPG, mining, materials, and industrials implement agile and resilient strategies using near-real-time data. By cleaning and combining premium vector datasets, EAS captures the following signals:

  • Mobility Activity — Track the movement of people in aggregate
  • Commercial Activity — Track the pulse of production

Descartes Labs opens up our second round of applications for free platform API access to individuals and small research teams

The Donjek Glacier has temporarily dammed the Donjek River multiple times during the last few years. When the dam breaks, water is suddenly released down the valley, which impacts recreation and traditional hunting. At present, Donjek River flows through the terminus of Donjek Glacier and is unlikely to be dammed again, until the next surge event likely to occur in the next 5 years. This image is from work by Will Kochtitzky on understanding glacier change in a warming climate, one of the projects chosen for the first round of Descartes Labs’ Impact Science program.

In January 2020, we granted access to the Descartes Labs Platform API and data refinery for our first round of academic and non-profit researchers. This first cohort is now a few months into their year of free platform access, and we are ready to accept applications for our second round of research projects beginning this summer.

We believe that we’ve built something special at Descartes Labs. Our platform allows for rapid iteration and hypothesis testing, along with easy and efficient scaling across large geographies. But don’t take our word for it. …

The State Forestry Department will use our automated detector during the 2020 wildfire season

In 2018, approximately 360,500 acres burned across our headquarters’ state of New Mexico. After a winter without snow, the wildfire season brought 1,334 fire starts in the state that year. With the effects of climate change and the present-day consequences of historical forest management policies hitting us so close to home, we set out to build an automated, early-warning wildfire detector using satellite data.

Today, we’re excited to announce that Descartes Labs will utilize our wildfire detector to alert the state’s Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department’s Forestry Division of wildfires in real-time. …

We will recover, but how will we know when?

Updated with aggregated mobility data from Friday, June 5th, 2020

Review our aggregated mobility tracking methodology in our technical paper: Mobility Changes in Response to COVID-19. We are making views of this mobility data freely available at the US admin1 (state) and admin2 (county) level under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license at the following GitHub repository.

Coronavirus is having a profound impact on everyday life — canceled schools, closed restaurants, working at home, no gatherings of more than 10 people, etc. — with one commenter saying “it’s like we’re pushing the pause button on the economy.”


Descartes Labs

Descartes Labs is building a data refinery for geospatial data.

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