Tag Archives: La Trobe

space

La Trobe and German Aerospace Agency launch Earth observation camera

The DLR Earth Sensing Imaging Spectrometer (DESIS) was created with assistance from the engineering talent of the La Trobe University Engineering department and the imagery will be used to monitor natural disasters and environmental changes. Thousands witnessed the camera launch from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, attached to Elon Musk’s Space-X Falcon 9 rocket, on 30 June 2018.

La Trobe Engineering Senior Lecturer and Entrepreneur in Residence, Dr Peter Moar, says the collaboration came about because of the La Trobe TIGER (Digital Radar and Radio Systems) radar team’s unique skills and experience designing hardware and software systems for hazardous environments.  “La Trobe University is very much at the forefront of space technology,” Dr Moar said.

“The unique feature of this camera – that no other system can do – is its ability to capture imagery at varying angles as it’s passing overhead, from some 400 kilometres in outer space,” explains Dr Moar. “With sophisticated on-board processing, it enables us to capture features of the Earth’s surface that have never been achieved before.”

“Typically, a system like this would be launched on a stand-alone satellite. This would make designing, launching and building incredibly expensive,” says Dr Moar. Installing the DESIS on the ISS removes the need for an expensive, stand-alone system. “This is the first time this has been trialled – it’s a very exciting project.”

DESIS has been integrated onto the ISS imaging platform named MUSES (Multi-User System for Earch Sensing) and the images will be used by research organisations and commercial users.

These high quality images will be of key benefit for environmental monitoring. La Trobe’s Securing Food, Water and the Environment Research Group plan to use the data to monitor the health of the Earth’s ecosystem, which includes tracking vegetation cover and water quality.

DESIS will also be a boon for disaster management, such as the control and monitoring of bush fires, floods, ash clouds, storms and drought. The School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at La Trobe and Melbourne-based company ESS Weathertech will use the data for the Firebird fire detection satellite project.  The program will provide more timely fire maps to emergency services to help save lives and minimise damage to property.

Dr Moar says that the La Trobe engineers are uniquely qualified to work on DESIS because of their experience developing radar systems for extremely hazardous environments, such as in La Trobe’s TIGER projects.

“Our involvement with the DESIS program highlights the three decades of expertise in La Trobe’s engineering department. It’s a world-first, cutting edge project”, says Dr Moar.

Earth observation is a key priority for the recently established Australian Space Agency, which aims to position Australia as an international leader in specialised space capabilities. The DESIS is currently in its commissioning phase on the ISS.

Smart ASD detection tool

Smart ASD detection tool

An estimated one in 50 children have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Research from La Trobe University’s Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC) shows that the majority of these children are not diagnosed until they are four years old, more than two years after they can be reliably diagnosed and receive life-changing intervention.

The technique underlying ASDetect has been used over the past decade by hundreds of maternal and child health nurses in Australia, as well as early childhood professionals around the world. It has proven to be more than seven times more accurate than the next best tool in the early identification of autism.

Salesforce developed the ASDetect app on a pro bono basis as part of the company’s 1-1-1 integrated philanthropy model, where the company donates 1% of its employee’s time, its products and its equity to support the not-for-profit sector. A team of Salesforce engineers, designers and developers volunteered their time to build the app on the Salesforce platform.

The app uses questions drawn from breakthrough research by La Trobe’s Dr Josephine Barbaro. It gives parents access to video footage from actual clinical assessments and clearly demonstrates the context and expected key behaviours of children at each age.

“ASDetect is an empowering tool for parents who may feel their children are developing differently than expected and are looking for answers. The new ASDetect app is an ideal way to share proven techniques with thousands of parents,” says Barbaro.

Through a series of videos and questions, ASDetect guides parents through the identification of potential “red flag” signs of ASD. These “red flags” can be raised when young children repeatedly do not:

  • make consistent eye contact;
  • share smiles;
  • show their toys to others;
  • play social games;
  • point to indicate interest;
  • respond when their name is called.
Smart ASD Detection Tool
Screenshot of ASDetect app being used by Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre.

“All typically developing infants are motivated to be social, look at other people’s faces, learn from them and copy. Children with ASD are not doing this – and we can now accurately identify this at a much younger age and take action, with the help of parents,” says Barbaro.

The app combines Barbaro’s assessment questions with videos demonstrating the ‘red flag’ behaviours critical in determining the likelihood of ASD in children as young as 12 months. Parents view two videos: one showing a child with ASD, the other showing a typically developing child. Parents then answer questions regarding their own child. The information entered by the parents is automatically sent to OTARC’s database, which also runs on the Salesforce platform, where analysis of individual results is completed. Parents are then sent information via a notification through the app, with advice as to whether they should seek professional help. As ASD can emerge over time, ASDetect includes assessments for children aged 12, 18 and 24 months.

“This is not a replacement for professional assessment; however ASDetect will provide parents with an indication as to whether they should seek a professional opinion from a doctor at a time when intervention will have the biggest impact,” says Barbaro.

Dan Bognar, Senior Vice President, Salesforce APAC says: “The ASDetect app is a great example of leveraging the power of the Salesforce platform to improve the capabilities of health providers and treatment for individuals. Being able to deploy on a global scale means that organisations like OTARC can make a significant impact on society.”

“The development of ASDetect highlights our ethos of giving back as well as our commitment to improving the local communities we operate in. It has been incredibly rewarding for everyone involved, and we look forward to seeing the results of this important initiative,” says Bognar.

Watch ASDetect in action:

This information was first shared in a press release by La Trobe University on 14 February 2016. Read the press release here