An Australian starter has launched two computers on a small satellite to test the orbital processing of earth observation images, hoping to make insights from space more accessible.
Sydney-based spiral blue Launched two Space Edge Zeros Computer to low earth orbit as part of Virgin Orbit Tubular Bell Part 1 The company’s founders said the technology could lead to breakthrough applications, automatically tracking rogue ships in remote waters in the future, finding lost planes, and even the poorest farmers. We believe that we can benefit from the view from above.
At the heart of Space Edge Zero technology is the powerful Jetson Nano chip built by Nvidia, which can run complex artificial intelligence algorithms. For about $ 120 each, and only 2.7 x 1.7 inches (7 x 4.5 centimeters) in size, the chip is lightweight enough, yet powerful enough that Spiral Blue can test space-based image processing for the first time.
SpiralBlue CEO Taofiq Huq told Space.com that the computers on Polisth’s Sat Revolution’s two CubeSats will expand the use of earth observation data, reduce the cost of space insights, and bring that knowledge. He said it could be affordable for users. In developing countries.
Relation: Photo: A wonderful image of the Earth as seen from space
“Today, satellites can’t send as much data as they can collect,” Huq said. “It’s like being in the middle of the countryside, having a poor mobile phone connection and trying to upload a photo somewhere.”
Recent “satellite-uploaded photos” are processed by powerful computers on the ground. Intelligent algorithms can detect and count various features such as the number of cars, the number of solar panels, and even cracks in water pipes. The problem is that many images are wasted. According to Huq, earth observation companies prioritize images of well-selling areas, so data is not accessible in less popular areas.
“If you’re in the middle of the country or in a second-class city, you won’t be able to access those images,” he said. “You will have to ask them to take pictures especially for you, and it will be quite expensive.”
Instead of sending a large image file, Spiral Blue wants to send only the information that the user actually needs to the ground.
“For example, if you’re sent to the countryside to count sheep, we don’t take a picture of each sheep and send it back,” Huq said. “Just count with your brain and send back that one number. That’s the idea.”
Computer suitable for space
Processing Earth observation images in space has never been possible, as technology was simply not ready for the task. According to Huq, it’s not just the size and weight of computer hardware that has only recently diminished. Space computer It is exposed to extreme radiation that can quickly damage electronic components.Electronics inside the satellite also have to deal with high mechanical forces at launch and may need to survive. Temperature fluctuation 140 to minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit (60 to minus 160 degrees Celsius).
“Computers have always been difficult in space due to the effects of radiation,” Huq said. “You can’t buy an Nvidia computer from Amazon and put it in space. You need radiation resistance and hardware that can handle heat problems. All of this is very expensive and has limited processing power. There is a possibility. “.”
Spiral Blue will test how well the technology SatRevolution has built to protect Nvidia-based computers will work in the next few months after completing a satellite test run.
Huq said that in the end, Blue Spiral will provide a platform for developers of earth-observation data processing software to upload apps to satellites, much like people put apps on mobile phones and computers. I did.
Users can count, for example, solar panels in areas of interest or ships in remote areas of the ocean. Instead of downloading the entire image set, the satellite reports only the actual information. As a result, satellites will turn more images into marketable insights.
“The main advantage is that the insights are significantly cheaper,” Huq said. “If we can significantly increase the capacity of our satellites, we can distribute the initial cost to more products, which will allow us to deliver satellites at a much lower cost while making a profit.”
Huq, now an Australian citizen, Bangladesh, A South Asian country suffering from extreme poverty. His vision is to make earth observation products affordable and available to smallholders in the country of birth.
“Whenever I visit Bangladesh, I go to the countryside and meet all the self-sufficient farmers,” Huq said. “And, as you know, I think the US Landsat or European Sentinel programs are all designed for Western countries. They aren’t really applicable for use in developing countries. The poorest. Even farmers can actually use the information directly on their own, or agronomists can come and offer it as a service to enhance their prosperity. “
Find lost planes and chase fraudulent ships
Spiral Blue recently received $ 416,250 Grant From the Australian Space Agency to develop space-based image processing technology. Previously, the company worked with Australian authorities to Ship detection It autonomously Find a ship Other vessels in Australia’s vast waters.
“Australia has vast maritime boundaries,” Huq said. “Something like 10% of the Earth’s surface is inside Australia’s maritime territory. As a result, the country has the following major problems: Illegal fishing Smuggling drugs. “
Satellites fly regularly over Australia’s vast waters, but downloading images obtained with these paths is not effective.
“We are doing manual image processing for this project and we are looking at images of the ocean to find the ship,” Huq said. “I think I saw about 400,000 images, but only 8,000 were actually in the ship. I don’t have the money to take a picture of the sea in the sky. But there is a small ship somewhere. There may be ships, or they may be in trouble, and you just miss them. ”
The app Spiral Blue wants to develop automatically detects ships on satellite and sends data for further processing to see which ships are operating illegally or off course. This application will also be useful in the future if another plane goes missing in the vast waters around the continent. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Probably did so in 2014. Large search campaign With the use of state-of-the-art underwater robots, no traces of the aircraft were found in the depths of miles.
“The satellite definitely flew over the area where the plane landed,” Huq said. “But at that time, no one could do anything about it.”
Huq hopes that if this technology works, the entire constellation of small satellites equipped with Space Edge Computers will not only be constantly monitoring the Earth, but will soon orbit the Earth. Other earth observation companies It provides quick insights without the burden of competing for rare opportunities to download data.
Spiral Blue plans to send the next payload to space again on the SatRevolution CubeSat in December of this year, Huq said it has also signed an Argentine-based contract. Satellogic Launch a more powerful computer based on the Nvidia Jetson Xavier NX chip and place it on the satellite in March 2022 with a resolution of 28 inches / pixel (70 cm). The current payload on the two SatRevolution CubeSats processes the image. 16 feet (5 m) resolution per pixel.
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Startup Spiral Blue wants space computers to revolutionize access to Earth observation data
Source link Startup Spiral Blue wants space computers to revolutionize access to Earth observation data