Global Sensor Network
In November 2010 ITR was awarded $5 million under the federal government’s priority program – the Australian Space Research Program (ASRP). Matched with an investment from partners, including COM DEV Canada (leading manufacturer of space hardware), South Australian company SAGE Automation, as well as DSTO, CSIRO and Australian Institute for Marine Science, the project will be worth more than $12 million over 2.5 years.
Sensor data gathering is critical for Australia’s environment, resource and
security issues, and our vast land and marine territories are best served from
space. This project will deliver a spaceready communications payload and
complete ground system for demonstration in marine monitoring, Defence sensor monitoring and industrial automation scenarios.
The concept of a cost-effective Space- Based National Wireless Sensor Network is to address Australia’s needs for ecosystem management, monitoring of climate change, Defence and National security, and support of industries such as mining and agriculture. This delivers clear National benefit in alignment with Australia’s research priorities.
Many remote sensors and devices have modest data rate needs and do not require broadband real-time communications. This market is not well served by existing satellite services, which are either too expensive, do not provide suitable data capabilities, or are receive only. While Australia makes use of Argos and various other commercial systems, equipment/ service cost and suitability has greatly limited utilisation. Existing systems are under foreign control, limiting applicability for Defence and National security.
Microsatellites can provide cost effective data retrieval enabling adoption and
widespread deployment of two-way communications to large numbers of remote sensors and devices beyond the range of terrestrial communications.
This project will deliver a complete architecture for remote sensor data
gathering via Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, emphasising key technology
enablers, and addressing Australian requirements to be developed in
collaboration with end users.
Deliverables include space-ready hardware/software for an innovative software defined radio, ground station facility, and experimental ground terminals interfacing to wireless sensor networks.
Benefits of the proposed software defined radio payload include in-flight
reconfiguration for each orbit, supporting multi-service and dual-use missions;
in-orbit upgrade; on-board processing enabling advanced sensor and control
applications; wide range of data service options enabling a broad user base;
flexibility to accommodate new services post launch.
A functional demonstration, targeting scenarios of National priority, will use an
aircraft as a LEO surrogate. Sensor data will be relayed via the aircraft and ground station to an end user. Command and control messages will also be sent to devices. This project provides a testbed for dual-use operation. Subsequent stages (beyond the scope of the ASRP funding) could deliver on-orbit operations by 2013, and several achievable pathways to launch have been identified. In support, the project will deliver new international partnerships and a phase A study defining subsequent mission phases up to launch and on-orbit operation.
National benefit is delivered by designing and demonstrating a system for Australian needs, engaging with industry and government end users including Defence, CSIRO, Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) and Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS). The project establishes a value creation chain consisting of value added service providers, space component suppliers, and ground equipment suppliers and integrators.The project builds significant, persistent Australian space capability, generating intellectual property and enabling
technologies. These outcomes offer significant near-term commercialisation
prospects, inserting Australia into the global space supply chain, and builds
capability in rigorous space engineering processes. The project promotes an
ongoing program of internationally significant space research and development
in Australia, nurturing the next generation of experts in internationally recognised areas of strength: satellite communications and sensor networks.
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