Φ and future Earth observation

The excitement and enthusiasm at ESA’s ɸ-week continues with participants exploring the wealth of new opportunities on the horizon. This doesn’t just involve new satellite technologies, but developments in communications, ways of merging information, artificial intelligence and new trends such as small satellites and citizen science.

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3D-printed ceramic parts made from lunar regolith

These finely-detailed ceramic parts have been 3D printed using simulated lunar regolith as part of an ESA-led investigation into how 3D printing could be used to support a lunar base.

“These parts have the finest print resolution ever achieved with objects made of regolith simulant, demonstrating a high level of print precision and widening the range of uses such items could be put to,” comments ESA materials engineer Advenit Makaya. “If one needs to print tools or machinery parts to replace broken parts on a lunar base, precision in the dimensions and shape of the printed items will be vital.

“They are the work of innovative Austrian company Lithoz, working on 3D printed ceramics.

“Normally their print process is based on materials such as aluminium oxide, zirconium oxide or silicon nitride. What we’ve demonstrated here is that it can also work with raw regolith, which is a collection of various different types of oxides, chiefly silicon oxide but also aluminium, calcium and iron oxides, among others.”

Ground and sieved down to particle size, the regolith grains are mixed with a light-reacting binding agent, laid down layer-by-layer then hardened by exposing them to light. The resulting printed part is then ‘sintered’ in an oven to bake it solid.

Johannes Homa, CEO of Lithoz added: “Thanks to our expertise in the additive manufacturing of ceramics, we were able to achieve these results very quickly. We believe there’s a huge potential in ceramic additive manufacturing for the Moon.”

As a next step, the parts will be tested to check their strength and mechanical properties, with the idea that similar parts could one day be employed to replace parts in a lunar base without requiring replacements from Earth.

This work was carried out as part of the URBAN project, supported through ESA’s Discovery and Preparation Programme.

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Artificial intelligence for Earth observation

During ESA’s ɸ-week on 12–16 November in Italy, Patrick Helber from the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence explains how artificial intelligence is being trained with Earth observation data and images such as that from the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission so features can be detected automatically. This can then be used to classify land cover types automatically, for example.

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Mapping the night

Imaging Earth from space is a favourite pastime for astronauts on the International space Station. They can set their cameras to automatically snap photos while they work, but often make time to Earth-gaze and take photos of their own.

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst snapped this photo of Europe at night in September, captioning it, “From space it's pretty clear that Europe belongs together.”

It is also pretty clear that Europe is very well lit at night, perhaps unnecessarily so.

Excessive artificial light is known as light pollution and it is often a problem in urban areas.  Many meteor showers have gone unnoticed by urban populations and the average city dweller can make out very few stars and constellations in the synthetic glow.

A more serious consideration of light pollution is energy efficiency. As the world grapples with climate change and cleaner sources of energy, how that energy is put to use is a bright topic.

A citizen science project is hoping to address the problem of light pollution and energy efficiency in cities by creating a map of the world at night.

Cities at Night is an online platform that invites citizens to flip through the half a million photographs of Earth at night taken so far by astronauts from the Space Station to identify cities.

In this regard, humans are much more efficient than computers, which require complicated algorithms to categorise images. The human eye, on the other hand, can quickly differentiate a photograph of a city from that of stars.

The end result of Cities at Night will be map of Earth that is accessible to anyone. Researchers want to use the map to locate energy inefficiencies in urban cities to urge dimming of the lights. This would also reclaim some of the night sky for urban dwellers to enjoy.

Find out how you can help and improve your geography knowledge with the Cities at Night project. With a mind-boggling amount of data about our planet along with the availability of the latest digital technologies, citizen science projects such as these is just one way to help interpret the data and there are countless opportunities for innovation. ESA’s ɸ-week, running this week, explores how data and new technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain can benefit business, industry and science to bring benefits to all.

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Φ-week – Summary of the Day

We live in exciting times of rapid evolution for innovative Earth observation science and applications. Satellite data are becoming increasingly important to monitor and understand our planet and create new business opportunities for the new generation of data and digital entrepreneurs. Held on 12–16 November at ESA’s Earth observation centre in Frascati, Italy, Φ-week brings together emerging space investors, tech leaders, start-ups and entrepreneurs with the space scientists and Earth observation researchers who are developing the potential space business ideas of tomorrow.

Selected sessions in this unique and exciting event were streamed live.

More replays: ESA’s Φ-week sessions livestreamed

For more information, please see: Earth observation Φ-week

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What is Φ?

ESA's Φ-week event is being held on 12–16 November at ESA’s Earth observation centre in Frascati, Italy. It brings together emerging space investors, tech leaders, start-ups and entrepreneurs with the space scientists and Earth observation researchers who are developing the potential space business ideas of tomorrow. Josef Aschbacher, ESA's Director of Earth Observation Programmes, explains his concept of Φ and how he hopes this event will further launch new ideas.

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What is Φ?

ESA's Φ-week event is being held on 12–16 November at ESA’s Earth observation centre in Frascati, Italy. It brings together emerging space investors, tech leaders, start-ups and entrepreneurs with the space scientists and Earth observation researchers who are developing the potential space business ideas of tomorrow. Josef Aschbacher, ESA's Director of Earth Observation Programmes, explains his concept of Φ and how he hopes this event will further launch new ideas.

Click here to visit Original posting

Φ-week – Summary of the Day

We live in exciting times of rapid evolution for innovative Earth observation science and applications. Satellite data are becoming increasingly important to monitor and understand our planet and create new business opportunities for the new generation of data and digital entrepreneurs. Held on 12–16 November at ESA’s Earth observation centre in Frascati, Italy, Φ-week brings together emerging space investors, tech leaders, start-ups and entrepreneurs with the space scientists and Earth observation researchers who are developing the potential space business ideas of tomorrow.

Selected sessions in this unique and exciting event were streamed live.

More replays: ESA’s Φ-week sessions livestreamed

For more information, please see: Earth observation Φ-week

Click here to visit Original posting