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Successful Launch of innovative Australian Edge Computing Module into Orbit

Image Credits: AIRCRAFT via SmartSat Website, Press Release

A company under SmartSat’s Aurora Space Cluster has successfully launched its edge computing module to set a record for Big Data processing in orbit. Under a commercial agreement with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), the commercial division of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the device was launched onboard the JANUS-1 satellite of a provider of software platforms for the space industry from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India.

Pulsar, the edge computing module developed by the company, will function as a crucial sub-system of the JANUS-1 satellite. Using artificial intelligence and consuming minimal power, will enable the ultra-fast processing of space data.

During initial ground tests, the company successfully classified 1,250 images of Earth Observation data in just 10 seconds, using the device’s low-power mode. This mode is expected to facilitate round-the-clock computation, even on small nanosatellites, enabling faster processing times than current market solutions, which can take up to 10 minutes per day.

Pulsar has the ability to seamlessly switch between low-power and high-performance modes, resulting in a potential four-fold increase in processing speed over its low-power mode. At a size of just 95mm x 90mm x 25mm, the power/performance ratio of Pulsar is currently unparalleled among devices of its size.

The module provides the benefit of being highly adaptable to suit the requirements of various customers and New Space entrants, based on factors such as the host satellite, mission duration and orbit. This flexibility enables it to be both resilient and cost-effective.

Additionally, the module supports over 20 popular machine learning frameworks from a software standpoint, allowing users to develop algorithms for Pulsar in the same manner as they would on desktops and leveraging open-source software.

The company’s CEO expressed that building an advanced and space-grade AI technology in a short period of time (9 months) for the JANUS-1 mission was an incredible journey. This achievement provided a platform for AICRAFT to enter the space ecosystem and collaborate with a US-based space software platform provider through their Australian subsidiary, which is also a member of the SmartSat CRC’s Aurora Space Cluster initiative for start-ups. The partnership allowed them to combine their strengths and achieve their objectives.

The space software platforms provider achieved a world first by completely conceptualising, designing, and manufacturing a satellite using their proprietary software in a cloud-based environment. The development of the JANUS-1 satellite involved the collaboration of eight organisations from seven countries, all working together virtually through the provider’s cloud-based platform, which includes open APIs and core open-source components.

The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two parties occurred at the Australian Space Forum in Adelaide, South Australia in March 2022. JANUS-1, which includes the company’s Pulsar edge computing module – the only Australian payload in the mission – was developed and produced in just 10 months, from concept to launch readiness, resulting in a cost saving of 75% compared to similar satellite missions.

About SmartSat’s Aurora Space Cluster

SmartSat has created a new entity called the Aurora Space Cluster to serve as a representative for space start-ups, allowing them to participate collectively as a Core Partner. With its own Board of Directors, Aurora offers various advantages to its members, including mentorship from industry executives and support for start-up managers to gain board experience by sitting on the board of an incorporated entity. Additionally, Aurora members will have opportunities to join SmartSat’s Industry Advisory Boards and participate in and influence the organisation’s projects and activities.

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