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Reaching into space to solve challenges on Earth

Posted April 16, 2020

The new SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre at Lot Fourteen is reaching into the frontiers of space, leveraging research and technology to solve challenges here on Earth.

Those challenges include the need for more accurate and reliable communications during major disasters such as Australia’s devastating summer of bushfires, and a national network to monitor the quality and quantity of our precious water resources.

SmartSat is a consortium of over 100 national and international universities, research organisations and industry partners, jointly funded by the Australian Federal Government.

It has a mission to develop know-how and technologies in advanced telecommunications and Internet of Things connectivity, intelligent satellite systems and Earth observation next generation data services.

SmartSat is one of a growing number of space industry businesses and organisations at Lot Fourteen which is rapidly becoming known as a national hub for space research and industry.

SmartSat’s neighbours at Lot Fourteen include the Australian Space Agency, pioneering space companies Myriota, Inovor Technologies, Neumann Space, SITAEL Australia and the CSIRO’s space science and technology research, with the Space Discovery Centre and the Mission Control Centre to come.

Defence and space is one of four deep tech focus sectors at Lot Fourteen, attracting investment to our state and creating high value career opportunities for South Australians in this rapidly growing sector.

SmartSat’s research will develop intellectual property and specialist industry expertise to foster new businesses, create export economic value and generate new high-tech jobs. It will focus on research related to agriculture and farming, disaster management, mining and natural resources, defence and security and transport and logistics.

SmartSat Chief Executive Professor Andy Koronios said the centre was working with NASA, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and Safety from Space to develop more accurate and reliable disaster management communications.

“Critical communications infrastructure is often damaged during a major fire incident, which may complicate rescue efforts and put lives at further risk,” SmartSat CEO Professor Andy Koronios said.

The CRC is in discussions with NASA about a Search and Rescue/Emergency Management project that will adapt existing emergency beacon technologies into a form of miniaturised satellite radio, connected into national data systems to deliver a complete, real-time picture of disaster zones and ensure reliable communication for individuals and communities in danger.

The SmartSat CRC work will also focus on a network to monitor the quality and quantity of surface and groundwater across the country.

The AquaWatch Australia Mission will develop a comprehensive, national monitoring system that can provide precise, decision-ready information on the quantity and quality of water across Australia’s inland waterways, reservoirs, and coastal environments and its variations over time. This will enhance existing monitoring systems.

“These technologies represent the future of how the world communicates, and Australia is home to internationally recognised experts in the field,” Prof Koronios said.

“Now, the mission for the SmartSat CRC is to coordinate research in a way that not only solves the unique challenges posed by Australia’s sprawling geography, but in doing so shows the world a better way to communicate.”

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