An Australian start-up company launched two computers on small satellites to test the in-orbit processing of Earth observation images, hoping to make it easier for people to gain insights into space. The
Spiral Blue in Sydney launched two Space Edge Zero computers into low-Earth orbit on June 30 as part of the first part of the Virgin Orbit tube clock mission. The company’s founders believe that the technology can bring innovative applications. In the future, it can automatically track rogue ships in remote areas of the ocean, find lost aircraft, and even the poorest farmers can benefit from the scenery above. The core of the
Space Edge Zero technology is the powerful Jetson Nano chip, manufactured by Nvidia, capable of running complex artificial intelligence algorithms. Each is about $120 and measures only 2.7 x 1.7 inches (7 x 4.5 cm). These chips are light enough but powerful enough for Spiral Blue to test space image processing for the first time. Taofiq Huq, CEO of
Spiral Blue, told Space.com that the computers launched on the two cube satellites of the Polish company SatRevolution could expand the use of Earth observation data and reduce the cost of obtaining information from space.
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Wasted Images
“Today, satellites cannot send as much data as possible,” he said Huq. “It’s like being in the field, with a bad mobile phone connection and wanting to upload photos somewhere.
These days, “satellite photos” are processed by powerful computers on the ground. Smart algorithms can detect and calculate various characteristics, such as the number of cars, the number of solar panels, and even cracks in water pipes. The problem is that a lot of images are wasted. Huq said Earth observation companies prioritize images from popular regions, avoiding data from less popular regions.
“If you are in a rural or second level city, you will not be able to access these images,” he said. “You will have to ask them to take a photo specifically for you, which will actually be quite expensive.”
Spiral Blue doesn’t want to send large image files, it just wants to send the information that the user really needs to the ground. .
“If you were sent to the field, say, counting sheep, you wouldn’t try to take a picture of every sheep and send it back,” Hook said. “You can use your brain to calculate them and then send that number. That’s the idea.”
A computer suitable for space
It used to be impossible to process Earth observation images in space, because technology has not yet done it for this Task Get ready. Huq says it’s not just the size and weight of computer hardware that has recently decreased. Computers in space are exposed to extreme radiation, which can quickly damage electronic components. Electronic equipment inside the satellite must also handle high mechanical forces during launch and may need to withstand temperature fluctuations of 140 to minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit (60 to minus 160 degrees Celsius).
“Due to the effects of radiation, computers have always been difficult in space,” Huq said. “You can’t just buy an Nvidia computer on Amazon and put it in space. It has to be anti-radiation treatment, it needs to have hardware that can handle heat dissipation – all of this makes it very expensive and limits processing power. . ”
Spiral Blue will test the performance of the technology they built to protect Nvidia-based computers in the coming months after SatRevolution completes satellite commissioning.
Space application
Huq said that eventually, Blue Spiral will provide developers of Earth observation data processing software with their platform to upload their applications to satellites, just as people place applications on mobile phones and computers.
For example, users can count solar panels in an area of ​​interest or ships in remote areas of the ocean. The satellites will not download the entire collection of images, they will only report actual information. Therefore, satellites will convert more images into insights with market value.
“The main advantage is that it should make information much cheaper,” Huq said. “If we can significantly increase the capacity of the satellite, we will spread the initial cost to more products, allowing us to offer it at a lower cost while still making money.
is now an Australian citizen and Huq was born in Bangladesh, this is a South Asian country fighting extreme poverty. His vision is to make Earthobservation products very affordable so that even small farmers in the country where he was born can use them.
“Whenever I visit Bangladesh, I go to the countryside to see all the self-sufficient farmers,” Hook said. “And I think, you know, the American Landsat program or the European Sentinel program are designed for western countries. They don’t really apply to developing countries. If it’s feasible, I think even the poorest farmers can. Also use this information directly on their own, or agronomists can enter and provide this information to increase their prosperity. ”develop its space-based image processing technology. Previously, the company began cooperating with Australian authorities to develop software called Vessel Detect, which can automatically find ships and other ships in the vast waters of Australia.
“Australia has a huge maritime border,” Hooker said. “Approximately 10% of the Earth’s surface is in Australia’s waters. Therefore, the country is

By Peter

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