Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UA Scientists Help Create Spacecraft That Think For Themselves

24.06.2004


There’s nothing worse than a satellite that can’t make decisions.

Rather than organizing data, it simply spews out everything it collects, swamping scientists with huge amounts of information. It’s like getting a newspaper with no headlines or section pages in which all the stories are strung together end-to-end.

Researchers at the University of Arizona (UA), Arizona State University (ASU) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are working to solve this problem by developing machine-learning and pattern-recognition software. This smart software can be used on all kinds of spacecraft, including orbiters, landers and rovers.



Scientists currently are developing this kind of software for NASA’s EO-1 satellite. The smart software allows the satellite to organize data so it sends back the most timely news first, while holding back less-timely data for later transmission.

Although the project, called the Autonomous Sciencecraft Experiment (ASE), is still in the test and development stage, software created by UA hydrologists has already detected flooding on Australia’s Diamantina River.

"We had ordered some images from the satellite to test our software in the lab," said Felipe Ip, a Ph.D. student in UA’s Hydrology and Water Resources (HWR) Department. "We didn’t know the Diamantina River was flooding, but when we started running the images through our software, it told us, ’Hey, we’ve got a flood here.’ We were delighted because that’s just what it’s supposed to do."

While Ip, under the direction of HWR researchers James Dohm and Victor Baker, is developing the flood-detection software for EO-1, JPL team members are creating similar software to detect volcanic activity and ASU researchers are working on software to find changes in ice fields.

The flood-detection software compares images from the satellite’s cameras with images stored in its computer memory. If the rivers are not flooding and images come close to matching, the satellite remains silent. But if the satellite’s computer finds significant differences, it takes more photos and notifies scientists.

UA hydrologists developed the software by comparing satellite observations with on-site observations at Tucson Water’s 11 recharge basins. The basins are part of the Central Avra Valley Storage and Recovery Project (CAVSARP) west of Tucson.

The basins are filled with water that flows across the desert from the Colorado River to Tucson via the Central Arizona Project canal. The water percolates into the ground where it is stored in a natural underground aquifer. The large basins are routinely dried out so they don’t become sealed like a typical pond or lake.

The next stage of testing comes in July, when the flood-detection software will fly aboard EO-1 in nearly full autonomous mode.

While the short-term goal is to record transient events, such as volcanic eruptions, floods and changes in ice fields on Earth, ASE software will eventually allow scientists to detect, map out, and study similar events throughout the solar system.

This could include activity on Mars that might indicate water produced by springs. On Jupiter’s moons, the software could be used to detect volcanic eruptions on Io or cracking ice sheets on Europa. Scientists also could use the software to study changes in Saturn’s rings or the formation of jets on comets.

"By using smart spacecraft, we won’t miss short-term events such as floods, dust storms, and volcanic eruptions," Ip said. "Finally, instead of sifting through thousands of images, I can actually get some sleep at night, knowing that a smart robot is on alert twenty-four-seven."

The ASE project is funded by NASA’s New Millennium Program, which focuses on testing exciting new technologies in space.

Ed Stiles | University of Arizona
Further information:
http://www.arizona.edu
http://www.u.arizona.edu/~filipe/ASEanimation/
http://www.u.arizona.edu/~filipe/ASEanimation/

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge

nachricht Unusual soybean coloration sheds a light on gene silencing
20.06.2017 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>