October 6, 2021 | Portfolio

Mapping the Planet: Why We Love Muon Space

John Cowgill

Written by

John Cowgill

One of the best things about venture is the people we get to meet and the transformational technologies they’re creating. But it’s not often we get to back a world-class team addressing humanity’s greatest existential threat: climate change. So we couldn’t be more excited to share our investment in Muon Space.

Muon is developing the world’s most capable Earth-sensing satellite systems so that organizations finally have the data they need to combat climate change. Muon CEO Jonny Dyer is one of the early innovators in New Space, working as Skybox’s Chief Engineer and growing the business significantly post acquisition at Google. As soon as we met Jonny, we recognized both that we shared a sense of mission and values, and that he had assembled one of the best technical teams we’ve ever seen:

  • Pascal Stang, a gifted engineer and “technical pied piper” (according to one reference) who also worked at Project Loon and Lyft
  • Paul Day, a fellow Skybox alumni and longtime New Space leader, most recently at Loft Orbital 
  • Reuben Rohrschneider, former Chief Engineer at Ball Aerospace and a key leader on Methane Sat, one of the more exciting climate satellites being deployed today
  • Dan McCleese, Chief Scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and science architect for much of NASA’s planetary exploration

Muon’s goal is to fundamentally transform humanity’s ability to address climate change and its impacts by deploying the world’s most powerful scientific remote sensing satellites. Despite all the attention being paid to climate change, there is still a huge need for satellite sensing systems that can measure and help model more precisely how our planet is changing and inform what we can do about it. Although we know that the climate is changing, our understanding of precise secular trends in climate remains limited.  Climate models disagree – often dramatically – and feedback mechanisms between parts of the biosphere (e.g. the impact of soil moisture on crop production) are still poorly modeled with incomplete, inconsistent data sets.

Space is now open for business, and there are tons of companies with data sets they’d like to have but no ability to generate them. Muon’s “mission as a service” brings the power of small satellite constellations to industry players who have specific data needs but don’t have the space or infrastructure expertise in-house. Muon can design the missions, manufacture the satellites and deliver the data sets these customers – including Google and Tomorrow.io (formerly Climacell) – need. The needs in this market are massive and will continue to grow as climate change accelerates and the world works to respond. Having seen the power of mission services through our investment in Kepler Communications and of data collection in Auterion, we were thrilled to lead Muon’s $10m Seed round with participation from Space Capital, Congruent Ventures, Ubiquity Ventures, South Park Commons, and ClimacticVC. We believe Muon is uniquely positioned to fill a huge market gap, and we couldn’t be more excited to be an early part of their revolutionary journey.


Our Perspectives