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SmartSat: Onboard AI and Space Exploration

Image Credits: SmartSat, Press Release
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SmartSat and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Φ-lab have entered into a new collaboration agreement focused on advancing Earth Observation (EO) research. As a renowned research centre, Φ-lab aims to propel EO into the future through groundbreaking innovations and cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and onboard processing.

This agreement strengthens the existing partnership between SmartSat and Φ-lab, which was instrumental in supporting cosine’s development of the HyperScout imager payload. Presently, this payload is being integrated into the South Australian Kanyini satellite, led by SmartSat, following consultations with Φ-lab during the planning of their Φ-sat-1 satellite mission.

The complementary nature of these missions presents exciting opportunities for collaboration between SmartSat and Φ-lab in enhancing onboard intelligence for EO applications. This collaboration lays a robust foundation for further research initiatives under this newly established agreement.

In Rome, the agreement between SmartSat and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Φ-lab was signed by Professor Andy Koronios, CEO of SmartSat. The collaboration marks a significant step forward in their partnership, which has been steadily growing stronger over the past years, particularly in their joint strategic research endeavours involving the Kanyini and Φ-sat satellite missions. Φ-lab is renowned for its leadership in Earth Observation technologies, making it a valuable collaborator for SmartSat to showcase Australian expertise on the global stage, highlighting the progress made in the national space industry.

A notable aspect of the agreement involves identifying new opportunities for collaboration between researchers at the Queensland University of Technology and Φ-lab. Their focus will be on developing advanced AI capabilities using hyperspectral satellite imagery. This cutting-edge technology aims to usher in the next generation of predictive intelligence, enabling more accurate forecasting and monitoring of agricultural and environmental activities, as well as disaster events.

As part of the collaboration, the two have plans to establish an exchange programme for research personnel and SmartSat PhD students. This programme will provide valuable internships at Φ-lab, with a scheduled commencement in early 2024. The internships will be tailored for PhD students specialising in Onboard AI and Synthetic Aperture Radar, fostering a strong focus on technological advancement and research innovation.

The ESA Director of Earth Observation Programmes recognised the collaboration as an opportunity to leverage the combined expertise of the Earth Observation Directorate and SmartSat. She highlighted the pivotal role of ESA Φ-lab as the lead partner on their side, collaborating with SmartSat’s extensive consortium. The collaboration is anticipated to yield significant advancements in the fields of onboard AI and edge computing in space.

Additionally, the value of the exchange programme was emphasised. The programme will facilitate the sharing of knowledge between European and Australian researchers in this specialised domain. The fruitful outcomes of these joint efforts are expected as well as the optimisation of knowledge exchange in the realm of space technology.

The Head of the Australian Space Agency highlighted the longstanding and robust partnership between Australia and the European Space Agency (ESA) in the field of space exploration. The newly established agreement is poised to strengthen and expand this collaboration further.

He noted that Earth Observation stands as a prominent example of how space technologies contribute to enhancing life on our planet. From weather forecasting to disaster response and climate change mitigation, space-based solutions play a vital role.

The agreement is set to foster collaboration between talented minds in both Australia and Europe. By integrating AI technologies and conducting research, this cooperation aims to develop innovative space solutions that address various global challenges and contribute to the advancement of space exploration.

A meeting was held between SmartSat CEO and the new President of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) alongside the Director of International Affairs and the Head of International Relations and Space Diplomacy. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss international research collaboration that will facilitate robust space research, development, and innovation between Australia and Italy.


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