AI in satellites: the new project for the protection of the Planet


theEuropean Space Agency (ESA), presented last April a very ambitious new project for the protection and safeguarding of the Planet. This focuses on the presence of forest firesoften of malicious origin, etc illegal fishing detectable, in this case, directly from the stars. The initiative was formed in several phases, starting from Orbital AI Challenge launched in February 2023. This competition offered scientists, companies and start-ups the opportunity to propose innovative solutions to integrate theAI in satellites.

The competition, coordinated by Nicolas Longépé, ESA’s Earth Observation Data Scientist, evaluated the proposals based on the criteria of creativity, originality, social or business impact and contribution to Open Science. Among the numerous proposals received, they were selected ten finalistswho developed and tested their AIs with support from ESA Φ-lab and the main supplier of the Φsat-2 consortium, Open Cosmos.

The winners of the OrbitalAI challenge and the potential benefits of AI

SISTER E PhiFireAI they won the competition. Both were developed by French teams and the Italians of Thales Alenia Space, an Italian-French company born from the merger of Alcatel Alenia space with Thales, a group that acquired the entire share in the joint venture with the Italian Leonardo. Both projects focus respectively pollution monitoring marine and forest fires, taking advantage of the potential of AI ​​to process the data collected by microsatellite Φsat-2 in real time and transmit them to Earth.

The project also had the collaboration of Copernicus, the European Earth Observation Programme. Copernicus recently published the data collected in the last 12 months about the temperature of the planet. This contribution of data is essential to improve the accuracy and efficiency of AI programs on board Φsat-2, such as IRMA and PhiFireAI.

thetarget of ESA with this initiative is double. Obviously there are the more pressing problems, also given the increase in temperatures, such as forest fires and the pollution of our seas. In addition to these, you also need to monitor the The Earth changes and to stimulate thetechnology innovation. The ability to rapidly process and interpret satellite data with artificial intelligence could, in fact, dramatically change the way we currently they manage environmental criseshopefully it will give us the opportunity to act more quickly and efficiently.



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