ESA finances artificial intelligence projects to improve satellites

Aiming to make satellites more responsive, agile and autonomous, the European Space Agency (ESA) has launched the “Cognitive Cloud Computing in Space” campaign, a project funding program to explore the application potential of the latest developments in space. (AI) and advanced computing examples.

ESA’s “Cognitive Cloud Computing in Space” campaign aims to make satellites more responsive, agile, and autonomous. Photo: FoxPictures-

According to an ESA statement, it could create new practical applications for exploring life on Earth and other planets.

In September 2020, the company launched the first artificially intelligent Earth observation satellite. Called ɸ-sat (pronounced phi-sat), the satellite carries an artificial intelligence accelerating chip that automatically removes blurry images and selects only useful data.

Then, in April 2021, through the ESA discovery, the entity invited the business and academic community to come up with innovative ideas for flying OPS-SAT missions, a CubeSat aimed at showcasing mission enhancement capabilities that will emerge when satellites can fly. . More powerful on-board computer.

The latest move came in October, when a public call from the agency sought ideas on how to make space systems more powerful using new computing and AI techniques. The 12 most interesting ideas have now been selected for funding.

“We’ve come up with a really interesting idea by addressing different types of space domains, which shows that there is a lot of interest from European players for cognitive computing in space,” said Gabriel Mioni, an ESA Φ-Lab researcher specialized in AI.

LESA finances the Artificial Intelligence project to improve the satellite
An overview of the concepts selected by ESA’s “Cognitive Cloud Computing in Space” program. Credit: ESA

The application of modern computing techniques – such as data processing directly to board satellites – could revolutionize space activity and the space economy in the next decade. And making satellites smarter provides significant benefits for future space missions and business models.

“We have deliberately expanded the scope of publicity to explore the full potential of this new computing paradigm,” explained Mioni.

Looking to the future, ESA invests in artificial intelligence to create new space markets

According to Leopold Summer, head of the ESA’s Office of Advanced Studies and Concepts, the call for ideas was driven by the agency’s vision of Agenda 2025, which requires Europe to strengthen its role in space, support commercialization and help create new space markets.

“We believe that cognitive computing in space provides substantial commercial potential for early engines, and we plan to fund up to ten teams to further develop their concepts,” Leopold continued. “However, European industry and academia have come up with such a good idea that we have decided to increase the number of funded projects to 12. We hope that this will help Europe to take a step forward in taking full advantage of the still emerging field of knowledge. Computing in space.

According to Mioni, the selected ideas involve new technologies created outside of the space sector – including blockchain, edge computing and neuromorphic computing (inspired by how the human brain works). “The concepts relate to incredible space applications, including early detection of methane and natural disasters, autonomous rovers on the moon, space surveillance and tracking – because information can be processed more efficiently.”

Each of the 12 selected projects will last six months, with a budget of 100,000 euros (approximately R $ 533,000). All are funded by the ESA Initial Support for Innovation (EISI) program, which focuses on developing knowledge and skills rather than achieving specific results.

“What are the possibilities for new computing techniques in space? What are the new applications, or new sciences to be carried? What will be their commercial value? These studies will help ESA further explore how cognitive computing can reconstruct the future of space missions,” Mayoni concludes.

You have seen our new video YouTube? Subscribe to our channel!

Leave a Comment