makepath + Microsoft Logos

makepath is excited to announce that we are teaming up with Microsoft to work on their Planetary Computer initiative.

Microsoft is a leading champion of environmental sustainability efforts, from carbon negative and water positive commitments, to allocating over $50 million in funding for AI for Earth initiatives from across the world.

makepath co-Founder, Brendan Collins, created Xarray-Spatial, an open source GIS library that will be part of the development of the Planetary Computer.

The Planetary Computer

Microsoft recognizes that open source artificial intelligence and machine learning applications can enable us to answer questions that previously required handling billions of terabytes of data, large-scale collaboration and the continuous exchange of ideas. Lucas Joppa, Chief Environmental Officer at Microsoft, describes the Planetary Computer as “a geospatial decision engine that supports queries about the environmental status of the planet, programmed with algorithms to optimize its health.”

The end goal is:

  • An organic platform for monitoring, learning and sharing ideas about the environment, at a global level.
  • Access to resources and people that can provide and inspire viable solutions.

Microsoft Executives Planetery Computer Quotes

What Xarray-Spatial will Provide

Xarray-Spatial is a data science toolbox analogous to desktop raster analysis packages within QGIS / ArcGIS, but implemented fully in Python and designed for distributed array computations. It provides foundational infrastructure for geospatial analysis and uses an MIT license. This open licensing means Xarray-Spatial can be used free of charge.  

makepath will:

  • Provide planning, implementation, documentation and release of Xarray-Spatial features for use within the Planetary Computer and use cases to explore and run on JupyterHub. 
  • Expand Xarray-Spatial to encapsulate the foundational distributed geospatial operations that are common and necessary for many analytics and data processing applications. 

Xarray-Spatial will make up a key part of the Planetary Computer. Data scientists and users interested in exploring the environmental status of the planet at any given time will have access to data and open source GIS and Python tools to scale to a planetary level. If you work backward from the mission of the Planetary Computer, you will see clearly why Xarray-Spatial is crucial: it will power a geospatial decision engine that will help answer the world’s most pressing questions.

Some Key Players


SilviaTerra (now NCX), a makepath partner, is committed to mapping the future of forests across the U.S. Their end goal is to empower committed conservationists and landowners to measure and monitor forests through aerial imagery and AI to survey forests at a national scale. 

As a recent recipient of Microsoft’s AI for Earth grant, SilviaTerra will be closely involved in supporting Microsoft’s global sustainability efforts as they create measurable change for the earth’s climate, communities, and biodiversity.

To learn more about the work SilviaTerra is doing, visit their Microsoft AI for Earth page.


Pangeo is a consortium of experts from academia and the private sector who focus on climate change and build tools to better understand climate in support of an international platform for Big Data geoscience.

The Alan Turing Institute, a Microsoft partner, encapsulates why Pangeo will be an important contributor to the Planetary Computer: “The Pangeo project provides a framework for big data geoscience on the Cloud and high-performance computing by using open-source components from the Python ecosystem. It allows for interactive and scalable computing on large, gridded datasets used by ocean, atmosphere, land and climate scientists.”

We are happy to join the ranks of companies like Microsoft, leading the charge in addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems through the innovative power of open source tools. 

Have any thoughts about the Planetary Computer and how open source tools can make such an initiative possible?

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