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October 26, 2022

ESA team achievement prize awarded to Φ-sat-1 team

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The Φ-sat-1 team has been recognised in a major award that the Agency grants for achievements promoting the success and public reputation of ESA with the involvement of multiple Directorates. The team, which includes several researchers from Φ-lab, conceived, designed and built the Φ-sat-1 experiment to demonstrate Artificial Intelligence (AI) data processing capabilities onboard satellites.

Φ-sat-1 is the first ESA experiment exploring the potential of AI to improve the efficiency of sensor information streaming from Earth observation (EO) satellites. By filtering out clouds from optical imagery on the satellite itself, only the useful data is downlinked to ground stations, leading to significant bandwidth savings. The concept paves the way for a revolution in EO, as onboard AI processors will enable new services to be deployed quickly and cheaply by uploading applications directly to satellites.

The Peer Review Board for the ESA Team Achievement Award were impressed that the Φ-sat-1 team had transformed an idea into a completely new approach to onboard data processing in a very short time and under tight cost constraints, thanks to the combined efforts of members working across multiple ESA sites and Directorates.

“It was a stimulating experience for our researchers to be part of Φ-sat-1 and its pioneering development of AI-enabled EO satellites,” commented Pierre Philippe Mathieu, Head of the Explore Office. “Working fast in collaborative, interdisciplinary teams is part of our modus operandi at Φ-lab, and so it’s particularly pleasing that the review board recognised these aspects of the project.”

To know more: Φ-lab and Φ-sat