ENVI Analytics Symposium 2016 – Geospatial Signatures to Analytical Insights

HySpeed Computing is pleased to announce our sponsorship of the upcoming ENVI Analytics Symposium taking place in Boulder, CO from August 23-24, 2016.

EAS 2016

Building on the success of last year’s inaugural symposium, the 2016 ENVI Analytics Symposium “continues its exploration of remote sensing and big data analytics around the theme of Geospatial Signatures to Analytical Insights.

“The concept of a spectral signature in remote sensing involves measuring reflectance/emittance characteristics of an object with respect to wavelength. Extending the concept of a spectral signature to a geospatial signature opens the aperture of our imagination to include textural, spatial, contextual, and temporal characteristics that can lead to the discovery of new patterns in data. Extraction of signatures can in turn lead to new analytical insights on changes in the environment which impact decisions from national security to critical infrastructure to urban planning.

“Join your fellow thought leaders and practitioners from industry, academia, government, and non-profit organizations in Boulder for an intensive exploration of the latest advancements of analytics in remote sensing.”

Key topics to be discussed at this year’s event include Global Security and GEOINT, Big Data Analytics, Small Satellites, UAS and Sensors, and Algorithms to Insights, among many others.

There will also be a series of pre- and post-symposium workshops to gain in-depth knowledge on various geospatial analysis techniques and technologies.

For more information: http://harrisgeospatial.com/eas/Home.aspx

It’s shaping up to be a great conference. We look forward to seeing you there.

One Rocket & 29 Satellites – A new launch record

Minotaur I launch 11.19.2013

ORS-3 Minotaur I launch 11.19.2013 (image: NASA/Chris Perry)

On Nov. 19, in a specular nighttime launch, a U.S. Air Force Minotaur I rocket was launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility and into the history books. With 29 satellites onboard, this mission set a new record for total number of satellites launched on a single rocket.

Referred to as the U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space Office ORS-3 mission, this launch not only sets a record, but more importantly, is also enabling significant amounts of space and satellite related research to be conducted using the 29 satellites. Appropriately, the Air Force thus also refers to this launch as an enabler mission.

The primary payload onboard the Minotaur I rocket was the U.S. Air Force’s STPSat-3 (Space Test Program Satellite-3), which will support a variety of research experiments related to satellite operations and measuring the space environment. This includes, among others, experiments to characterize the Earth’s ionosphere and thermosphere, measure plasma densities and energies, and monitor total solar incident irradiance, as well as a specialized module to assist with satellite de-orbiting at the conclusion of its operating lifetime.

In addition to the STPSat-3 satellite, the ORS-3 mission included 28 CubeSats contributed by numerous organizations, including NASA, universities, and even a high school. Here’s a list of a few of the different CubeSats launched in this record-breaking mission.

  • TJ3Sat: (Thomas Jefferson High School) This is the first ever satellite designed and built by high school students. Its mission is to engage students in space science and provide educational resources for other K-12 institutions to build their own satellites. The satellite itself is designed to allow users to upload approved text messages, convert the texts to voice signals, and then relay these audio messages back to Earth over an amateur radio frequency.
  • KySAT-2: (Kentucky Space Consortium) In a show of determination after the rocket carrying KySat-1 failed to achieve orbit back in 2011, students at the University of Kentucky and Morehead University persevered to design and build KySat-2. This satellite includes a digital camera, temperature sensor, and stellar gyroscope, as well as communication systems to receive commands and transmit data and photos to the ground station.
  • Firefly: (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) This satellite will be used to investigate links between lightning and terrestrial gamma ray flashes, exploring what initiates lightning and what effects it has on the atmosphere.
  • COPPER: (St. Louis University) Testing a commercial off-the-shelf infrared imager, this satellite is examining the instrument’s suitability for Earth observation and space situational awareness.
  • DragonSat-1: (Drexel University and U.S. Naval Academy) This satellite is being used to acquire images of the northern and southern lights and also demonstrate deployment of a gravity gradient boom for passive attitude stabilization.
  • PhoneSat 2.4: (NASA Ames Research Center) This is a follow-on to NASA’s previous PhoneSat mission, which launched three CubeSats earlier in 2013, and is being used to further demonstrate the cost-effectiveness and utility of using low-cost smartphones for satellite operation.

With the surge in popularity of CubeSats, and their relative ease of deployment, it’s an exciting time to be involved in space research and operations. A new era of space science has arrived, and era in which satellite access is more available to more people than ever before.

So get out there and see how you can participate. Maybe you too can soon launch your own satellite.

For a complete list of satellites launched during the ORS-3 mission, refer to these related articles posted by Space.com and NASASpaceflight.com.

Space Science Now – Mobile Apps from the European Space Agency

ESA AppsAre you a big fan of all things SPACE – such as space science, space research and space exploration? Did you see our previous post on NASA mobile apps, and still want more? If so, here’s a list of additional apps from the European Space Agency (ESA) that should be just what you’re looking for. Included in these apps are descriptions of different satellite missions, access to the latest ESA images and videos, the ability to track satellite locations in real-time, details on the latest ESA projects and achievements, and so much more.

ESA – European Space Agency. “ESA is Europe’s gateway to space. Join us on our exciting journeys and see how space benefits all of us on Earth. The ESA App delivers a wealth of information on ESA missions, videos, images and news updates, at your fingertips. ESA Live allows you to watch live events and programmes such as launches, docking, press conferences, tweetups and other major events.” – iPhone/iPad/iPod

ESA wis. “Where Is the Satellite – WIS – tracks in real-time the position of the selected satellite and predicts when and where the satellite will be visible from the user’s actual position. The application includes all European Space Agency Earth Observation satellites plus others bright enough to be seen with the naked eye such as the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope.” – iPhone/iPad/iPod

ESA cryostat + ESA cryostat HD. “CryoSat is ESA’s (European Space Agency) first ice mission. The satellite has sophisticated technologies to determine variations in the thickness of polar sea ice to monitor changes in the vast ice sheets that overlie Greenland and Antarctica. This application is a gateway to knowing what the mission is about, how it works and what the elements of the space and ground segment that makes this mission unique are.” – iPhone/iPad/iPod (HD iPad only)

ESA Bulletin. “ESA Bulletin at your fingertips. The ESA Bulletin is the flagship magazine of the European Space Agency, published four times a year to report on ESA’s activities and achievements. In addition to a wide range of articles, every issue provides an overview of the status of ESA’s major space projects. It has been inspiring and informing the space-interested public since it was first issued in 1975.” – iPhone/iPad/iPod

So go ahead and add more ‘space science’ to your mobile device. We have.

Navigating the Final Frontier – The growing problem of space debris

Space Debris - ESA

Satellites and spacecraft are at risk in orbit
(source: ESA Space Debris Brochure)

Garbage is big business. In fact, collecting and processing our discarded items here on Earth is a multi-billion dollar industry around the world. But what about space junk? It’s not like you can just back up a truck, or more specifically a spacecraft, load in the refuse, and take it away to be discarded in another location. But space junk is becoming a growing problem, particularly as more and more countries launch satellites and enter the global space economy.

According to the NASA Orbital Debris Program Office there are more than 21,000 debris objects larger than 10cm, approximately 500,000 objects from 1-10cm, and more than 100 million objects less than 1cm. This includes significant amounts of debris in low Earth orbit, where satellites such as Landsat and WorldView-2 reside, as well as debris in geosynchronous orbit, where instruments such as the GOES and Meteosat weather satellites reside. In total it’s a lot of debris to take into account with respect to current satellite operations and future launches.

So where does space junk come from? Sources of debris, according to NASA, include “derelict spacecraft and upper stages of launch vehicles, carriers for multiple payloads, debris intentionally released during spacecraft separation from its launch vehicle or during mission operations, debris created as a result of spacecraft or upper stage explosions or collisions, solid rocket motor effluents, and tiny flecks of paint released by thermal stress or small particle impacts.”

The obvious danger of space debris is the potential for collisions, which result in at best minor surface pitting and at worst catastrophic destruction. And such destruction only leads to more debris. To mitigate this eventuality, the U.S. Space Surveillance Network and a number of other national and international organizations, routinely monitor space debris distribution. However, tracking individual debris items is limited to only the largest of objects, typically those > 10cm.

To avoid collisions, satellites with maneuverability, such as the International Space Station, can adjust their orbit accordingly. Additionally, shielding can be used to protect spacecraft from impacts of smaller debris items. Unfortunately, not all debris is explicitly tracked, not all satellites are maneuverable and not all components can be sufficiently shielded, resulting in a certain level of ‘space roulette’ for any given spacecraft.

So what are some of the solutions? The U.S. Government and a number of other spacefaring countries, including Japan, France and the ESA, have established orbital debris mitigation guidelines to reduce the creation of new debris. This includes ‘end-of-life’ disposal plans for spacecraft and used orbital stages to either re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere or be re-orbited to an unusable ‘graveyard orbit’. Spacecraft are now also designed and operated to avoid unnecessary debris release and to reduce risks of accidental post-mission explosions from unspent energy reserves.

This still leaves the question unanswered on how to remove the significant amounts of existing debris. Referred to by NASA as active debris removal, “many different methods for remediation of the orbital debris environment have been proposed over the years. These include the use of lasers, electro-dynamic or momentum exchange tethers, tugs, drag enhancement devices, and other, more exotic methods.” A workable, technically sound, economically viable solution, however, is yet to be achieved.

What’s your idea? Perhaps a unique method for capturing and combining numerous small debris items into larger objects that can be safely de-orbited, or perhaps an orbiting recycling center that puts the debris to good use? Whatever the solution, something needs to be done soon. It’s getting crowded up there.

For more on space debris, view “The Space Debris Story” video produced by the ESA.