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 New parsley virus discovered by Braunschweig researchers
17.05.2019 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH

nachricht Franco-German research initiative on low-pesticide agriculture in Europe
16.05.2019 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung (ZALF) e.V.

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: MPSD team discovers light-induced ferroelectricity in strontium titanate

Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.

Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...

Im Focus: Determining the Earth’s gravity field more accurately than ever before

Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.

The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...

Im Focus: Tube anemone has the largest animal mitochondrial genome ever sequenced

Discovery by Brazilian and US researchers could change the classification of two species, which appear more akin to jellyfish than was thought.

The tube anemone Isarachnanthus nocturnus is only 15 cm long but has the largest mitochondrial genome of any animal sequenced to date, with 80,923 base pairs....

Im Focus: Tiny light box opens new doors into the nanoworld

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered a completely new way of capturing, amplifying and linking light to matter at the nanolevel. Using a tiny box, built from stacked atomically thin material, they have succeeded in creating a type of feedback loop in which light and matter become one. The discovery, which was recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, opens up new possibilities in the world of nanophotonics.

Photonics is concerned with various means of using light. Fibre-optic communication is an example of photonics, as is the technology behind photodetectors and...

Im Focus: Cost-effective and individualized advanced electronic packaging in small batches now available

Fraunhofer IZM is joining the EUROPRACTICE IC Service platform. Together, the partners are making fan-out wafer level packaging (FOWLP) for electronic devices available and affordable even in small batches – and thus of interest to research institutes, universities, and SMEs. Costs can be significantly reduced by up to ten customers implementing individual fan-out wafer level packaging for their ICs or other components on a multi-project wafer. The target group includes any organization that does not produce in large quantities, but requires prototypes.

Research always means trying things out and daring to do new things. Research institutes, universities, and SMEs do not produce in large batches, but rather...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Concert of magnetic moments

14.06.2019 | Information Technology

Materials informatics reveals new class of super-hard alloys

14.06.2019 | Materials Sciences

New imaging modality targets cholesterol in arterial plaque

14.06.2019 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>