Tag Archives: satellites

$20m of vital space sector R&D investment by SmartSat CRC

In a $20m investment, nine professorial Chairs have been established by SmartSat and its partner universities in artificial intelligence, optical communications and cybersecurity for the development of next generation space technologies to stimulate Australia’s economic growth in space.

Adelaide University, Swinburne University and University of South Australia are the first universities to announce three professorial chairs today.These experts will drive new frontier research in artificial intelligence for satellite systems and new space cyber security technologies.

The trio, Professors Tat-Jun Chin, Christopher Fluke and Jill Slay, will form a Research and Development advisory group to refine the SmartSat research program in priority areas for space systems research and development, and boost the translation of research for industry application.

A further six professorial chairs will boost this first-of-its-kind space R&D initiative, with the Australian National University, Sydney University, and the University of NSW also taking part in this nation-building space capability development along with future appointments from University of South Australia.

SmartSat CEO, Professor Andy Koronios, says the appointment of the Professorial Chairs is a significant step towards growing Australia’s space capabilities and expertise and to strengthening international collaboration.

“We are thrilled to announce the appointment of these outstanding Professorial Chairs who will grow SmartSat’s national knowledge network and extend important existing international connections to our research programs,” Prof Koronios says.

“SmartSat is committed to attracting high calibre researchers who have strong track records in leading translational research and proven experience in contributing to Australia’s space research performance. We’re confident these Professorial Chairs will accelerate the progress of our research portfolios in vital areas for our space industry and for national security.”

Professor Anton Middelberg, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research) of the University of Adelaide confirmed that Assoc Prof Tat-Jun Chin is an international leader in AI and machine learning for space applications.

“As a global leader, it is very appropriate Tat-Jun Chin brings his extensive knowledge of advanced space system autonomy, intelligence and decision making, on-board machine learning and AI technology to SmartSat CRC,” Professor Middelberg says.

“The mandate of CRCs is to develop sustainable new industries. This requires the right people to fill future jobs and in addition to his global leadership, TJ brings the inspiration and mentorship to build a dedicated CRC activity to deliver next-generation space technologies.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) at Swinburne, Professor Bronwyn Fox, says the appointment of the professorial chairs will enhance the impactful research of the SmartSat CRC and drive the growth of the emerging Australian space sector.

“Astrophysicist Professor Fluke is a highly respected interdisciplinary researcher and his collaborative approach coupled with his advanced visualisation and data expertise will be important for tackling the unique industry problems that the SmartSat CRC will address,” she says.

“Swinburne’s world-leading expertise in astronomical data processing and visualisation, machine learning and AI techniques, and our internationally recognised Industry 4.0 capabilities will help to develop space technologies that will transform our industries and society.”

Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of South Australia, Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington says global demand for secure systems of communication can be met through smart investment in people.

“As a proud partner of SmartSat, UniSA is delighted to be working with the CRC to make a significant investment in capability,” she says.

“Jill Slay’s expertise is internationally respected and she will make a significant contribution through her knowledge, networks and her leadership in teaching and research.”

An industry-focused doctoral program through SmartSat will further build Australia’s space high-tech knowledge. Five PhD scholarships have already been approved and a further six are under consideration with a total goal of more than 70 PHDs over seven years.


Professorial Chair of Sentient Spacecraft, the University of Adelaide’s Assoc Prof Tat-Jun Chin will build Australia’s largest research group dedicated to AI and machine learning for space and actively seek to partner with industry to ensure timely transfer of the research outputs to industry. Recently, Tat-Jun led the team that won the global POSE challenge organised by the European Space Agency and Stanford University last year, beating many international teams. Winning the challenge, which was to use machine learning to estimate the relative position and attitude of a known spacecraft from individual grayscale images, cemented his position as a global leader in his field.

A leading international researcher in data-driven astronomy visualisation from Swinburneas Professorial Chair of Space System Data Fusion and Cognition, Prof Christopher Fluke will further develop capabilities in real-time, data-driven discovery and decision-making, and form collaborations with experts in artificial intelligence and machine learning, skilled performance, human factors research, cognitive assessment, and user-centred design.

University of South Australia’s Prof Jill Slay is the new Professorial Chair of Cyber Security. Prof Slay is currently Theme Leader of SmartSat’s Cyber Security & Resilience program. Her expertise in cyber security and critical infrastructure protection teaching and research will strengthen links to leading international research centres and build capability this critical area.


The SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre brings together over 100 national and international partners who have invested over $190 million, along with $55 million in Federal Government funding under its Cooperative Research Centres Program, in a $245 million research effort over seven years. Working closely with the Australian Space Agency, SmartSat will make a strong contribution to the Australian Government’s goal of tripling the size of the space sector to $12 billion and creating up to 20,000 jobs by 2030. Priority industry sectors for SmartSat include telecommunications, agriculture and natural resources, transport and logistics, mining, and defence and national security.

Early Career Researchers

Early career researchers take the stage

The Showcasing Early Career Researchers Competition celebrates good research that is well communicated. Entrants were asked to submit a 30-second video conveying the aim of their research. Five finalists were selected from 41 entrants to attend the 2017 CRC Association Annual Conference in Canberra, to give a 5-minute presentation. An audience vote at the Collaborate Innovate conference determined the winner. 

Meet the five Showcasing Early Career Researchers finalists and see a 30 second snapshot of their work. 




early career researchers

Many older adults struggle to understand speech in everyday noisy situations, even when they perform well on traditional hearing tests. For my PhD, I am investigating how age-related changes in cognitive functioning contribute to this all too common situation. I aim to develop a listening test that is reflective of communication in real life and examine how age and cognitive skills like attention and memory are related to performance on this test.

Watch Julie’s video




early career researchers

Around 40% of autistic people experience anxiety, and autistic people also tend to underperform academically. In the non-autistic population, a link between these two issues has been found.

In my research, I am using assessments of anxiety and academic achievement with a group of autistic students, to identify whether the same link exists within the autistic community. These findings could inform support options for autistic students, allowing for improved mental health and academic outcomes.

Watch Jacquiline’s video

DORIS GROSSE – Space Environment Research Centre


early career researchers

Several 100,000 space debris objects orbiting Earth are threatening to collide with and destroy our satellites networks. To prevent those collisions, a ground based laser can be aimed at the debris objects moving them out of the way with the help of photon pressure. The atmosphere, however, distorts the laser beam. The Adaptive Optics system that I am building compensates for those distortions so that the laser beam can be focused correctly on the object in space and hence preventing collisions.

Watch Doris’s video

TOMAS REMENYI – Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems CRC


Early career researchers

The Climate Futures Team translates fine-scale, regional climate model output into useful, usable tools that are used by decision makers in industries across Australia. Our focus is on working closely with industry during research design, and throughout the process, to ensure the outputs of our research are directly relevant to our stakeholders and align with their decision making frameworks.

Watch Tomas’s video



Early career researchers

Despite people with autism having high levels of skills and the desire to work, they remain unemployed. Many employers are hesitant to hire people with autism due to their lack of confidence and knowledge about autism. To assist employers to better understand autism and their specific needs in the workplace, the Integrated Employment Success Tool (IEST) has been developed. The IEST is a practical “tool kit” with strategies to help employers tailor the workplace for success for people with autism.

Watch Melissa’s video

This article on the Showcasing Early Career Researchers Competition was first published by the CRC Association. Read the original article here.

Data sharing out of the blue

In Greek mythology, the Argo was a ship sailed by Jason and his Argonauts in their quest for the legendary Golden Fleece. Today, marine industries and modern-day sailors on a different kind of quest also make use of an Argo. For almost 15 years, the Argo international ocean-monitoring project has been collecting and data sharing climate and oceanography research through sensor-equipped floats.

Australian researchers play a key role in this latter-day Argo, jointly led by the national science agency CSIRO and the University of California and involving 31 countries. Dr Peter Oke, a CSIRO Ocean Modelling and Data Assimilation Research Scientist for Australia’s own ocean forecasting system BLUElink, says Argo has changed the way researchers do business, encouraging data sharing and reuse, and spawning new systems like BLUElink.

“The Argo community has really led the way in creating a data sharing culture. By making data access free and open, it’s breaking down the silos once set up to collect and protect observations.”

“The Argo community has really led the way in creating a data sharing culture. By making data access free and open, it’s breaking down the silos once set up to collect and protect observations,” he says. BLUElink is an ocean forecasting system built on Argo data and the Ocean Forecasting Australia Model. CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and the Royal Australian Navy collectively run the project, established in 2001. Forecasts are based on data including temperature, salinity, sea levels and currents, all measured in real-time at different locations and depths by the autonomous Argo floats.

In 2014, Oke and his colleagues used BLUElink to provide intelligence in the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished with 239 passengers on board.

“We dropped all tools in our support for the search. We made educated guesses about the splash points and used BLUElink to look at where the debris was most likely to go,” says Oke.

Then, in July this year, a wing part washed up on Réunion Island east of Madagascar. “We did historical runs to backtrack with BLUElink to see if the debris could be from the plane. Argo data was a key component.”

Argo float being deployed. Image source: ARGO.
Argo float being deployed. Image source: ARGO.

The current locations of over 3800 Argo floats appear on a map like confetti across the oceans. Each float’s sensors collect temperature and salinity data profiles at depths of up to 2000 m. Every 10 days the floats come to the surface to relay data to satellites. More than 10,000 profiles per month provide oceanographers, climate scientists and others with comprehensive subsurface ocean data, accessible via the IMOS (Integrated Marine Observing System) web portal. Since 1998, Argo data sharing has generated dynamic maps of ocean currents and resulted in over 2000 scientific research papers.

As for BLUElink, its users range from marine industries such as shipping companies to individuals like surfers and sailors. Each year, using forecasts from BLUElink, sailors in the famous Sydney to Hobart yacht race are briefed on the conditions they’ll encounter on some of the world’s roughest seas.

Argo data improve safety for oil and gas workers and help analyse risks of oil spills on sensitive coastlines. Data sharing also inform decisions about fishing area boundaries and catch limits.

Oke is particularly excited that the field of operational oceanography, which aims to make ocean monitoring and prediction routine. He sees improved ocean forecasts resulting from the Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment (GODAE), which is exploring how BLUElink can be used more efficiently. Data from sensors on marine gliders closer to shore will also be integrated with Argo data sharing to create new coastal models.

“One day, thanks to Argo, we’ll see ocean forecasts as reliable as the weather forecasts that we check-in on every day,” Oke says.

Story provided by Refraction Media.

Originally published in Share, the newsletter magazine of the Australian National Data Service (ANDS).

Featured image source (above): ARGO.

Argo is a major contributor to the WCRP ‘s Climate Variability and Predictability Experiment (CLIVAR) project and to the Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment (GODAE). The Argo array is part of the Global Climate Observing System/Global Ocean Observing System GCOS/GOOS). Discover more about data sharing and Argo here.