29.12.2017 change 29.12.2017

Silesian companies are building a computer for data processing on the satellite itself

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

Launching a satellite in 2022 with a very efficient on-board computer that will enable data processing in space is the objective of a projects of the consortium of three Silesian companies that start the implementation of space program.

This small satellite, weighing only about 10 kg, will also be equipped with technologically advanced devices for observing the Earth, and the collected data will be used, for example, in agriculture, forestry or environmental protection. According to the creators, it will be the world\'s first satellite with processing power that will allow for segmentation of hyperspectral images in orbit.

The space program launched by the consortium FP Space consists of four projects, two of which are commissioned by the European Space Agency, another is carried out in cooperation with the National Centre for Research and Development, and the project by Warsaw University of Technology - as announced Monday at a conference in Gliwice.

The first of the projects is the already mentioned satellite called "Intuition-1". The purpose of this space mission is to conduct Earth observation using a satellite with a hyperspectral instrument and advanced on board data processing, based on deep neural networks. As the experts explained during the conference, the goal is to obtain previously inaccessible data using a hyperspectral camera, then process them in orbit and transfer to Earth. This will allow to shorten the reaction time to the monitored event (for example, if the satellite "notices" a forest fire, it will be able to immediately send an alert).

This will be the task of a small, rectangular 10x22x36 cm satellite weighing approx. 10 kg. It will house a specialized high-resolution spectral camera working in the visible and near-infrared light range, recording light in 150 channels.

However, the amount of data is a big challenge: a hyperspectral camera is capable of generating about 2 GB of data per second, and it would be difficult to store all that on such a small satellite. That is why it was decided to use the solution of direct data analysis on the satellite and sending already processed data.

These data can then be used in many sectors, including agriculture (for example classification of land cover, crop maps, soil maps or yield forecasts), forestry (classification of forests or determination of their health status) or in environmental protection (emission maps or land development analysis).

The satellite "Intuition-1" will operate in low orbit, and its launch is planned for 2022. This project (years 2018-2023) is carried out by: KP Labs and FP Instruments; it is co-financed by the National Centre for Research and Development.

The second project presented during the Monday conference is "AMMER", which assumes an innovative use of satellite technologies for automatic determination of water quality in water reservoirs. Its goal is to create software that will support the automation of satellite image processing. This, in turn, will enable a more effective and less costly assessment of the level of eutrophication of inland surface waters compared to the current methods. This undertaking, commissioned by the European Space Agency, is carried out by Future Processing. The implementation period is January 2018 - March 2019.

The third project named "SISPARE" - also commissioned by the European Space Agency and carried out by Future Processing - involves developing algorithmic solutions that will allow to increase the resolution of satellite images.

As a result, as engineers assume, it will be possible to use existing observation satellites with older optics for a longer time; instead of sending a new satellite with better technical parameters, it will be possible to keep using the satellite images from existing satellites for a longer time, obtaining much more details than before. In addition, using new methods for increasing the resolution of images will also be possible for the latest satellites in order to read more data from the images. This project has already begun and will continue until June 2018.

The last project presented by the consortium is "PW-Sat2", an educational project of Warsaw University of Technology, in which Future Processing and FP Instruments are involved. Its purpose is to build an artificial satellite whose task will be to test an innovative 4-sq m sail deorbitation system, as well as to check the system of opening solar panels, solar sensor and the power supply system. The project is run by members of the Astronautic Student Club at the Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering, Warsaw University of Technology.

The satellite "PW-Sat2" is expected to be launched on board the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The launch is planned for autumn 2018.

The FP Space consortium consists of three companies: KP Labs responsible for flight software, Big Data and machine learning; FP Instruments responsible for the design and manufacture of electronic devices, and Future Processing responsible for the development of Earth observation applications.

Their projects use artificial intelligence and machine learning for data analysis and interpretation. (PAP)

author: Agnieszka Kliks-Pudlik

editor: Marek Michałowski

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