NSF-funded initiative to collect data insights while in orbit, lay the groundwork for innovative applications
PITTSBURGH, 06 July 2022†BUSINESS WIRE)–Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering embark on a mission to reimagine the capabilities of nanosatellites in low Earth orbit. Backed by a $7 million grant from the Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) Frontiers Program of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the CMU initiative will transform constellations of nanosatellites into advanced distributed computing platforms, laying the groundwork for a wide range of new public applications including security, defense and intelligence, carbon mapping, traffic management and precision farming.
Today’s nanosatellites collect huge amounts of raw data, so much so that it’s impossible to downlink everything to Earth. The long loop required to beam only a portion of the data to the ground and then make sense of it also creates a lot of latency issues.
With the team’s new approach, called orbital edge computing, researchers at CMU will work to develop computationally capable constellations of nanosatellites, equipped with machine learning techniques that extract valuable insights from data while still in orbit. This will not only reduce the amount of information sent to Earth, but will lay the foundation for a wide variety of possible responsive applications that operate entirely from space.
The new technology will help detect the first signs of problems before they occur, according to lead researcher Brandon Lucia, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. For example, it could make it possible to monitor suspicious activity at large-scale events such as the upcoming 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles or identify early signs of wildfires, enabling response teams to take action to set the forests on fire.
The project includes leading experts in critical areas such as federated learning, wireless communications, security and networking, and nanosatellite design, including Carnegie Mellon professors Gauri Joshi, Swarun Kumar, Zac Manchester and Vyas Sekar.
The grant will fund a large team of graduate students who will work to define the field as well as the resources needed to build satellites and launch them into orbit as part of a test deployment to explore the capabilities of the new technology. to demonstrate. The project appears to overcome many of the challenges of tightly coupled computing, networking and space perception with a resilient and responsive architecture.
About the College of Engineering:
The College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University is a premier engineering college known for its cutting-edge collaborative culture in research and education. The College is known for working on problems of both scientific and practical importance. Our ‘maker’ culture is ingrained in everything we do, leading to new approaches and transformative results. Our acclaimed faculty has a focus on innovation management and engineering to deliver transformative outcomes that will fuel the intellectual and economic vitality of our community, nation, and world.
About Carnegie Mellon University: Carnegie Mellon, cmu.edu, is a private, internationally ranked research university with acclaimed programs in science, engineering, technology, business, public policy, humanities, and arts. Our diverse community of scientists, researchers, makers and innovators is driven to make real impact that benefits people around the world. With a bold, interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial approach, we do the work that matters.
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